MU football players meet opponents on the line, ready to snap the ball. Photo from 2019-2020 season.
Photo Provided by MU Athletics

MU Football’s Utilizes Small Practice ‘Pods’ for Safety

Kelsey Tyler

It isn’t a secret that COVID-19 has entirely changed the way that we live our lives. Masks are a requirement everywhere we go, hugging our friends is now just an awkward stare, and there is also an unspoken constant state of confusion among every single person about how long the pandemic will last.

Through all of this, Manchester University has responded quickly and efficiently to this ever-changing situation. The university still offers in-person classes, schoolwide events, and even has some sports practices and competitions.

Manchester University’s football team is one of the most popular teams on campus, as well as one of the most challenging to work around COVID-19 restrictions. Nate Jensen, MU’s head football coach, has found an effective way to be safe and train at the same time. “We have pods of 30 that are practicing together right now,” he said. “It means four practices for the coaches but only one practice for the student athletes.” In other words, the coaches are putting in 4x the work for their student athletes.

Along with scheduling differences, there are other changes that the team has made as well. Junior football player, Jabari Webb, also provided some insight. “There are face covers on the helmet so it can prevent the droplets from spreading to other teammates and we social distance on the field,” he said. Along with facial coverings, these student athletes also wear face masks any time they are not wearing their helmets.

How have the athletes’ attitudes have been during this hectic time? “I don’t believe these restrictions are negatively affecting the team’s morale,” Webb said. “We as a whole have to stay positive during this time and believe that how we are practicing now will help lessen the spread of COVID.”

Jensen also doesn’t think that the team’s attitude is negatively affected by COVID-19.

The players and coaches are both working together to make this season the best possible, even though their season is shifted. “As of right now, we plan to play two varsity games and two JV games this fall,” he said. “Our conference schedule will be played from the end of February through mid-April.”

The team and coaching staff is working really hard to make games happen, and it all looks really promising as of now. If we’ve learned anything within the past year, it is that things can change in a blink of an eye, which is why MU’s football team is taking all of the precautions necessary to not be shut down.