By Kaia Zimmerman
Grand Rapids Community College athletes have been highly affected by the pandemic as they start training this fall. With cross country in the midst of their season, the athletic department is taking all the necessary precautions to keep GRCC athletes safe.
COVID-19 has affected GRCC sports in many ways. The college had to move all their sports to spring with the exception of cross country. They have also had to reduce games and practices. At practices, athletes are social distancing and wearing masks.
“Students are adjusting, but it’s definitely been a game changer,” said David Selmon, GRCC Interim Athletic Director.
Mariah Redding, 19, of Walker, is a utility player on GRCC’s softball team who had to choose between softball and basketball this season because of COVID-19. She ended up choosing softball. She said social distancing makes it hard to interact as a team, and she misses that from last year, but she likes the environment the team has created and they push each other to get better, and they work together as a team really well.
“(Last year) we were together, we were in a group, we were in the huddle, and (Covid) takes that away just a little bit,” Redding said.
Jack Kehoe, 19, of Grandville, is a runner on the GRCC Men’s Cross Country team. Cross Country is the only sport to have a season in the fall.
“I am so very thankful that the school could make this year’s season possible for us,” stated Kehoe. “Meets, especially, are much different than normal. Only a certain number of people can start a race at the same time, and schools are approaching this issue at many different angles. My previous race at St. Claire Community College required splitting the race in half– starting the first half, waiting 60 seconds and starting the last half of the teams.”
GRCC athletics is taking precautions to keep athletes safe. Every day when they come to practice, they are given a form with health screening questions, they have their temperatures taken, they are sanitizing equipment before and after practices, and are wearing masks and social distancing.
“Grand Rapids Community College is taking every precaution that there is,” Selmon said. “Students are wearing masks and are socially distancing and they are abiding by the guidelines that the administration and college have set up. The coaches are abiding by it as well.”
Selmon added that students’ scholarships have not been affected by the pandemic.
He said the pandemic was not affecting GRCC sports financially in any way. However, he said COVID-19 has affected the way GRCC can recruit players.
“It is very tough,” said Selmon. “Students couldn’t come to the campus at all and we couldn’t go there. It was very tough to get into the homes for the coaches and into schools.”
Even with the pandemic, student athletes are having a positive outlook on their seasons and what they can accomplish.
“I show up to races now with a new attitude ready to give my best effort because who knows? My next race could very well be my last,” stated Kehoe. “This mentality has pushed me to be second for guys on the team and I am so happy I put in the work and training and to see it pay off.”
Redding has a positive outlook on the upcoming semester.
“I’m calling that the Raiders go all the way this year,” said Redding.