Student-athletes begin return to campus
Members of Hilltopper football are headed back to campus to begin preparing for the upcoming season.
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU took its first steps toward athletics returning in the fall, as student-athletes began returning to campus on Monday, June 8.
Hilltopper football was the first team to see it’s players make the return to the hill. However, only a portion of the team returned, 65 players on Monday, with the remainder set to return on July 6.
“We haven’t had athletes here since mid-March,” Todd Stewart, WKU’s Director of Athletics said. “So now to have 65 football players here is the first phase of a gradual transition back to normal this summer.”
Stewart said the coaching staff is excited to have their players back with them on campus.
“I know they have been talking to the players on a consistent basis through zoom and conference calls and things of that nature,” Stewart said. “But there’s still nothing like having your guys with you in person. Even though it’s small group settings right now, it’s nice to have everybody back.”
When players first arrived back on campus they went through various health screenings and physicals required to participate in any team activities such as workouts. Due to social distancing guidelines, workout and conditioning groups will be limited to no more than 10 players. As the groups rotate workouts throughout the facility there will be a 30-minute window between groups to sanitize the area.
“A lot of what this week will be is just assessing where everybody is relative to the strength and conditioning element of things,” Stewart said.
As far as testing for COVID-19. WKU football is testing players that show symptoms or wish to be tested. The program is also following a detailed plan that includes monitoring the players and consistently sanitizing the areas players come in contact with such as workout equipment and eating areas.
“Right now nobody has a roommate that’s living on campus,” Stewart said. “We’re really controlling all the variables we have just to get everybody back here and among their teammates and coaches and just have a good month of June.”
If a player does test positive for COVID-19, WKU will isolate that player and because all activities are done in small groups, the team will be able to perform contact tracing. Team doctors will see if anyone that player came in contact with have symptoms and will be placed into a managed quarantine.
“We have a contingency plan for everything that may for may not come up,” Stewart said.
The plan to begin bringing student-athletes back to campus was a part of the university’s campus restart plan. The next group of athletes set to return to campus will be the remaining members of WKU football, as well as volleyball and soccer. Those teams will return on July 6. Western plans to have all student-athletes back on campus by August 22.
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