Averett Athletics Staff Adapting to COVID


Baste Endresen

Averett student-athletes receiving treatment by athletic trainer in the ATR at North Campus.

Baste Hasselgård Endresen, Staff Writer

As a year has gone by since the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic, our society is still adapting to a new normal as people take it day by day in hope of going back to a more relaxed and free way of life. Due to the fast-spreading virus, our world has been infected in numerous ways, and it will be challenging our athletic department as a whole more than ever during this complex 2021 spring semester.

Averett Athletics is now facing a semester where all sports will be active in season at the same time. Notwithstanding that it is beautiful to see athletes being able to compete again, it comes with its sacrifices and challenges.

“This is by far one of the biggest challenges that Averett has faced during my 10 years working on the Athletic Training Staff,” Thomas Underwood, director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer, said. “We are working hard to try to practice and have outside competition and do so in the safest manner possible. Keeping athletes safe and healthy is at the front of our radar and planning has been going on for months about procedures and protocols on how to make everything work. We are working together to do our part to keep people safe.”

The university faces a challenge of this magnitude for the first time in its history as the Averett staff is usually working spring and fall sports on separate semesters. A lot of planning, preparing and time have been dedicated to making this experience as good and memorable as possible. However, it must be respected and kept in mind that the athletic trainers and the communications department being outnumbered when it comes to the university’s student-athletes.

“We know everyone is going to be busy this semester across all areas of campus and there will be challenges, but I’m excited that our teams are scheduled to compete,” Drew Wilson, director of athletics communications, said. “We are going to do everything we can to make it the best student-athlete experience possible given the circumstances.”

This extensive challenge will make a significant change to the university’s staff every day. Hopefully, this will be respected by student-athletes, coaches, etc. as the staff will be offering a big chunk of their time due to exposure of last-minute schedule changes and longer days. Moreover, as if the Sports Medicine Department did not have enough on their plate, they are now assigned to perform COVID tests in efforts to keep students and staff healthy as well as the athletic programs running throughout the semester.

“My biggest ask for students and staff is just to realize and take into consideration how much the Sports Medicine Department has going on this semester,” Underwood said. “Not only do we have all teams in season but we are doing COVID testing as well which averages around 250-300 tests per week. We are spread very thin, but trying to do the best we can to provide the best care possible to all teams. Communication is the biggest component, whether that coaches communicating schedule changes or athletes communicating with us in a positive manner. Currently, we are a staff of four Athletic Trainers caring for approximately 400 athletes.”

It is of great importance that all components of the university work together as one team and one family to make this complex semester work. To make the best out of this year a combined effort of cooperation, communication, consideration, and respect will be crucial. Do your part!

“I want to encourage everyone to do their part to allow us to practice and compete,” Underwood said. “These things include wearing a mask, completing daily self-screenings, and avoiding large social gatherings. Our athletic staff as a whole has worked hard to get to this point and we want it to pay off for our athletes to be able to play games.”

Follow and cheer on your Averett Cougars this semester as all sports will finally enjoy competing again and bring pride to the university.

(Below you will find a link to Averett University’s COVID Health and Safety Guidelines)

Averett University’s COVID Health and Safety Guidelines:

Averett Athletics (go to sports, then press schedule on the sport´s you want to support)