Thursday, December 2, 2021

Pandemic in the NCAA

Channing Foster Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

By Ramsey Davis, UM Journalism Student

Under the coaching of Matt Mott, the Ole Miss soccer team will begin its second season of intense covid-19 restrictions when it faces Samford on Feb. 25.   

For the last two semesters, players have been kept to extreme social distancing. A lack of social activities other than time spent at soccer decreases the odds of exposure greatly. 

This protocol has been known as “the bubble” and encourages players to only see other teammates. Of course, exceptions apply to when a mask is worn. For example, players are not kept away from classes, grocery shopping, etc. 

To cope with this new lifestyle, seniors, Molly Martin, Madison Pezzino, Sophie Dineen, and Channing Foster, chose, “We Over Me,” for the season’s slogan.

“We Over Me,” is a reminder that our individual wants and needs are not more important than the team’s success,” said Martin, a senior forward/mid-fielder. 

“Seeing it on my wrist every day is like the angel on my shoulder reminding me to make the smart decision because I am a part of something bigger than myself.”

The team met for a meeting in June of 2020 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. If a player responded “I’m in,” to the rules stated in the meeting, she received a “We Over Me,” bracelet. 

With only two players receiving positive COVID-19 results while being tested three times a week during the last 8 months, Mott plans on playing all games scheduled for the 2021 season. 

The Rebels will have 20 hours of practice each week during the season and both sides of the pitch will be rapid tested the Friday before game day to ensure safety during the game, and players and staff on the sidelines are required to wear face coverings. 

“We are all here for soccer, making these sacrifices for the team is nothing less than what I would expect to be as successful as we hope to be,” said Foster, an All-SEC senior forward/mid-fielder who was named all-conference all four years. 

Until the availability of a vaccine to the team, Ole Miss soccer continues to follow strict covid-19 guidelines to compete and stay focused during the 2021 season.