Texas Wesleyan Athletics canceled the first four games of its spring football season, announced on Feb. 10, due to mandatory quarantines for players possibly exposed to COVID-19.
Ramsports.net states “every decision has, and will continue to be, made with recommendations from the CDC, local health officials and Texas Wesleyan team doctors.”
Athletic Director Ricky Dotson said he was disappointed with the decision but believes it’s for the best.
According to Dotson, there is a lot of disappointment among the players because COVID is preventing them from playing.
“Even though there is a lot of disappointment, I hope there is also understanding that we are trying to make decisions in regard to the players’ health,” Dotson said.
“Although I hate to cancel these games, I will not apologize for taking a path that ensures the greatest degree of safety of our student-athletes,” said Dotson.
According to Joe Prud’homme, Texas Wesleyan’s head football coach, the season was supposed to begin Feb. 19 and end April 10. Four out of the six games within the eight-week span have been canceled.
At issue is not practicing for weeks can put the players at risk for injuries. In two weeks, Dotson and the football staff are going to evaluate whether they should move forward and play or cancel the remaining games based on if there might be more COVID positive tests.
Prud’homme says it is like a roller coaster having the number of positive cases be low, but the number of players who’ve had to quarantine be high. There were 24 students in quarantine for two cases. Four out of the first five weeks were missed which affects conditioning and practices. Only mild symptoms have been experienced, “but you can’t take anything for granted,” said Prud’homme.
Michael Rosas, chief of staff, linebackers coach and strength and movement coordinator said, “The hardest part was not being around our guys… that bonding and building as a team was harder.”
Rosas acknowledges that the cancellations help them focus on what’s most important right now. “These kids matter to us a great deal,” said Rosas.
Prud’homme cares about the players, as well. “I wouldn’t want to have anyone else helping lead us through this time,” said Rosas.
Before the winter storm hit, there were several close contact cases. “We haven’t been able to get them in the kind of condition they need to be in to play football… it is such a physically demanding sport that if you’re not in shape for it, major injuries happen, and I’m not going to put our guys in that situation,” said Prud’homme.
From the holiday break, quarantines and ice storm, 10 weeks were lost from inactivity, he said.
According to Prud’homme, the team meetings have also changed from meeting in-person to meeting online via Zoom. Previously, the team would have a social time together on Wednesday nights while Sunday nights would be when the teams meet in person, but all of that has changed.
Prud’homme says he has found himself losing sleep worrying about “his kids and his staff members” even though he can’t control it “…We are all in this together,” said Prud’homme.
Though it is unknown whether the other games will be canceled, the plan right now is to play. The football players will continue their preparation when they can, whether this season goes to plan or not, to become physically ready for next season and use this time wisely.
Danielle Davis contributed to this story.