Yale athletes feel safe returning to practices following COVID-19 outbreak
Student-athletes continue to train through Phase I and feel safe doing so despite the coronavirus cluster revealed on Oct. 13.
Jessie Cheung, Contributing Photographer
Following a COVID-19 outbreak on the Yale men’s hockey team, student-athletes returning to practices say they feel safe as Phase I continues.
As part of Phase I, teams are required to social distance, have a maximum of 10 students at practices and are allowed one hour per day of weight training and conditioning for a total of five days per week. Student-athletes have begun to meet again at Yale athletic facilities in the last two weeks for practices.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and community are always at the forefront of all we do,” Yale Athletics told the News in a written statement. “We are currently in Phase I which is limited to only strength training & conditioning activities and all social distancing measures are maintained at all times.”
Quanah Brayboy ’24, a midfielder on the men’s soccer team, emphasized the safety precautions taken during practices. He noted that his team, which has about 20 on-campus members, is divided into two groups during practices at Reese Stadium, each group dividing its members to be about “12 feet apart.”
“I wasn’t too nervous [about restarting practices]. … [Yale has] been super cautious,” Brayboy told the News. “I was more excited to get back to practice. … I think Yale’s done a good job with the phased approach.”
He told the News that when arriving at Payne Whitney Gymnasium to lift, athletes need approval before entering each time. Their temperatures are taken and they sign in before receiving a stamp of approval on their arm. Afterwards, they wait for approval that they can enter the varsity weight room, which has a maximum of one athlete per bar.
Brayboy said that the coaches tell everyone to keep their masks on unless otherwise instructed, something that tennis player Theo Dean ’24 echoed in an interview. Occasionally, during conditioning outdoors, athletes are allowed to remove masks if they are doing exercises that make them breathe very heavily. Nonetheless, they are prohibited from taking their masks off in Payne Whitney.
Dean feels very safe returning to practices. The men’s tennis team only has five players on campus and two coaches, meaning practices consist of seven distanced members. He mentioned feeling safe due to the small group of people present during practices, Yale’s routine bi-weekly testing and the nature of the sport itself.
“I was mostly concerned with being stuck not being able to do things for some time,” Dean said. “Every sport is being held to the same standard, so I think that’s fair. … I think it’s better as a whole that every team is at the same phase.”
Dean mentioned that while he understood not being allowed to practice sport-specific activities, he feels that for sports like tennis, the distance between opposing players on each side of the court is large enough to be just as safe as the way they are practicing now.
As of Nov. 2, Yale has had nine positive on-campus undergraduate cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days.
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