On-Going Pandemic Brings New Obstacles For NAIA Student-Athletes

Wildcat Athletes Face Hurdles to Compete

The question “How are you feeling?” among coaches, teammates, and athletic trainers at Culver-Stockton College has a new meaning this season, as now those individuals are having to monitor for symptoms for COVID-19, as well as normal injuries that may occur.

Nearly two months into a season like no other, student-athletes have seen just how many aspects have changed to their sports, whether it be practice, traveling, meetings, etc.

Due to safety precautions to begin the return to play, the Heart of America Conference released the “Heart Promise” manual with the necessary procedures for all to follow in order to proceed with having athletic competition.

The Heart of America fall athletic season is reaching the halfway point and across the board cancellations have been seen throughout the conference because of COVID concerns.

Director of Athletics Pat Atwell sees Culver-Stockton about the same as other Heart of America institutions. “We were doing great but have had a slight uptick recently. We are about in the middle of the pack on cancellations in the Heart.”

The game-day routine is another component that athletes have had to adjust to in the past months. According to the Heart of America manual, athletes must wear a face covering while traveling to and from games. Athletes must also undergo screening prior to the start of competition.

It makes us realize that you need to be thankful every time you get to play a game.”

— C-SC Athletic Director, Pat Atwell

On the organizational standpoint Atwell says his staff is ready to manage a game given any circumstance.

He says the majority of his past few months have been COVID planning and executing those plans. He also mentioned in many cases it is really an hour-to hour scenario because of test results, schedules etc.

Another change that has been made in the NAIA is eligibility for athletes, if there season were to be impacted by COVID-19.

Atwell stated that, “The NAIA passed a rule that if you do not play in 50% or more of the maximum number of contests permitted then you do not utilize a season of competition.”

The Heart of America is set to conclude the fall sport season with conference championships taking place in mid-November, as the National Championships have been postponed till the spring.