Sports teams begin socially-distant training


Head volleyball coach Julia Jenkins oversees a drill Photo credit: Kate Nuelle

photo by Kate Nuelle

Despite their fall seasons being canceled, the Trinity Tigers were officially allowed to begin training on Sept. 8th. The postponed start was the result of delayed athlete physicals, which was a much slower process than usual this year as the teams followed COVID-19 safety protocols.

Along with the delayed physicals, the Department of Athletics had to keep a close eye on the campus-wide COVID-19 positivity rate as students returned to campus. With the first round of surveillance testing revealing zero positive cases, teams were allowed to move forward with training.

A phased Return to Sport Program was developed for all teams to ensure that practices remain safe and limit social contact as much as possible. It includes three phases with distinct requirements that must be met before advancing to the next phase.


Teams are broken into units called pods.

These pods can’t have more than eight players, and athletes that live together off-campus must be within the same pod.

Athletes can’t switch pods once Phase One training has begun, and interaction between pods is not allowed during training and strongly discouraged outside of training.

Masks must always be worn except when drinking water. This is the only instance players are allowed to remove face coverings.

Athletes must show a green check and get their temperature taken before each practice.

Practices must be socially distant and can only include individual, non-contact drills.

Phase One must last at least two weeks with a minimum of 6 sessions per pod.


All the safety measures in Phase One apply to Phase Two, with a few adjustments:

The pods can now hold 12 players max.

Small group drills are allowed but must remain non-contact.


All safety measures in Phase One and Two apply to Phase Three, with a few adjustments:

The maximum capacity in a pod is now 20 players in each pod.

The larger pods should refrain from dividing up the little pods if possible. Team drills may occur, and will be limited to a short (15 minutes) live active training.


They meet the requirement of six sessions over a period of two weeks.

There isn’t an increase in positivity rate within the team and numbers are stable.

Teams comply with all phase requirements.

There isn’t an increase in Trinity’s overall positivity rate. If an athlete does test positive, their pod’s activity will be suspended until proper contract tracing can be conducted. Training would only resume after testing and necessary isolation has occurred, and the head athletic trainer clears the pod. Additionally, Trinity can suspend all athletic activities if deemed necessary.

While all sports are subject to these rules, the size of teams and each sport’s requirements has resulted in some specific adjustments.


The volleyball team began practicing on Friday, Sept. 11th and holds practice four days out of the week, the remainder of the week is dedicated to lifting. They are split into three pods based on players’ living situations and positions. The team works to allow first-years to interact with upperclassmen within their pods.

Their practice times are staggered throughout the day. They bring their own water bottles and after practice they sterilize the balls. They also complete wellness monitoring three times a week to assure each athlete is in good health.


The women’s soccer team started practicing on Monday, Sept. 14th. They have four pods, each containing between five to seven people. They practice four times a week, and occasionally weight lift at the Sports Performance Center (SPC) after their practice.

Coaches lay out cones with people’s names on them so players can place their belongings on the field while staying six feet apart. Their practices are also staggered to eliminate contact between pods. Players must bring their own water bottles.

“I have realized that we are still being offered some sort of soccer experience when we could have been given nothing. Especially being a senior, I think that I have a sense of appreciation for every little moment. Personally, I am absolutely thrilled to be back out on the field, even in a mask,” said Lindsey Peng, senior defender.


The women’s tennis team began practicing on Monday, Sept. 14th. They practice three times a week with SPC lifts included. They have two pods that hold between four and five players each. They have separate courts for each pod and are allowed to switch partners within their pod. They bring their own water and space out their belongings.

“There is no better feeling than being on the court again…I hope I can speak for everyone when I say that this offseason has been the longest one ever and just being back in the same place to train is incredible and not taken for granted,” said Annie Wise, senior tennis player.


The women’s cross country team had their first official practice on Friday, Sept. 11th. They typically meet together for lighter runs and weight training and a longer run on Sunday. They have four to eight people in each pod, and when they run, they must be at least 10 feet apart. They each have their own water bottles and towels and stay distanced while stretching post-run.

“It’s a little bittersweet in the sense that it’s definitely not the senior year I imagined, but it’s something, and I’m so grateful for the efforts our coaches, the athletic department, and the university have put into this to make practices an option for us this year,” said Jordan Juran, senior runner.


The football team started lifting on Monday, Sept. 14th, which is what most of their Phase One will comprise of. They have 30 pods altogether and players are divided into two lifting shifts, one at 6 a.m., the other 7 a.m. Pods are split up within the SPC to ensure distance. The team sanitizes all equipment.

“Overall, I just missed these guys, and I missed being around the coaching staff… We may not be dealing with the most ideal situations, but I am so grateful to be around these guys and continue doing life with them,” said Wyatt Messex, senior quarterback of the football team.


The men’s soccer team began practicing Friday, Sept. 11th. They have five pods with seven to eight players in each pod. For Phase One, they are training and lifting three days a week. Multiple pods will train simultaneously but on opposite sides of the field to maintain distance between them. This will ensure pods aren’t in close distance and can practice comfortably.

“Everyone is very excited to be back in training… being back on McGinlay Field is a great feeling and makes me feel very grateful to be back with the team and playing soccer again,” said Quentin Van Der Lee, senior midfielder.


The swimming & diving team started practicing on Monday, Sept. 14th, swimming three times a week. They have five pods with eight people in each and they are based on the athletes’ living situations. Two of the pods swim in the indoor pool, and the other three use the outdoor pool. Plastic panels were placed between the lanes, and swimmers stay spread out across the pool.

“Our head coach and the weights coach have been very helpful in making practice possible, and we are all doing everything we can to hopefully get back to a normal schedule as soon as possible,” said Shamzi Alkaff, senior swimmer.