Coach Patrick Cunningham leading his team during a Region 1 playoff game against Eastern Arizona in March 2017. Photo by Alex Lastra, AWC Photo Services.
Extreme caution has taken over at Arizona Western College due to the very contagious virus known as COVID-19. Each student has moved to online classes, putting a huge strain on some classes that need face-to-face interaction. These precautions also affect the AWC sports teams heavily.
The athletes are no longer able to meet for practice. Patrick Cunningham, professor and coach for women’s basketball, mentioned that they are not allowed to visit other campuses. Coaches are not allowed to recruit players or give them tours around campus. Recruiting players has became a lot more difficult because the staff cannot personally meet the players and talk about their experience.
“It’s a disadvantage, because we can’t really bring anyone here to visit and have players that we want to work out further,” said Cunningham. “All the other schools that we were competing with can’t bring their students here either.”
Many athletes are not from Yuma, and it was a lot harder for them to find things to do and find alternatives for training. A lot of these players had to return home because it was safer, and returning home as soon as they could was the best option to ensure that they would be able to before matters turned worse.
“Players are unable to go work out, and the off season is for them to self-improve, but they can’t do that right now,” Cunningham added. “They can’t put time in the gym and work on their skill sets.”
The players are struggling to find time to train. Although, the precautions are enforced to ensure the safety of everyone on campus, it still sets them back from achieving their goals.
Professors have relied on Blackboard and Zoom technology to continue teaching their students. The app allows classes to meet through video chatting and screensharing, so that teachers can still show their lessons with visuals.
“The switch hasn’t really affected my work,” said Cunningham. “For the most part it was just converting my classes to online, which I am kind of already used to.”
The AWC sports teams have not shown much recent activity. Somehow, though, Sports Information Director Tim Slack has been able to coordinate his way around that and produce content for AWC sports fans.
“Right now would be the height of baseball and softball” said Slack. “Instead, we’ve focused on creating content for each team’s season – things people can go back and relive as well as things that highlight our players and honor the work they have done.”
These highlights encourage athletes to look forward to the next season. Keeping in touch with the students is the best thing that professors can really do because right now it’s all about keeping that safe distance from one another and, as a result, staying healthy.