Athletes abide by social restrictions to ensure campus and team safety

On Aug. 7, three Louisville men’s soccer players were dismissed from the team following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases tracing back to a party they had thrown. For SLU men’s soccer player Mujeeb Murana, this story hits close to home. 

“I had an ex-teammate that goes to Louisville,” Murana said. “Fortunately for him, he didn’t get kicked off, but he was at the party.”

In contrast to the common circumstances disrupting athletic teams across the country, Murana and other student athletes have noted the diligence of SLU athletes in upholding the standards set by the university and individual coaching staffs. 

“We have very strict rules and our coaches are very clear on what our behavior should be like off the field. We’re not allowed to go out, our dorms are supposed to have a maximum of four people and if you do have that many people everyone has to be wearing masks. If there are more than that, everyone has to be outside and your mask has to be on at all times,” Murana said. “It’s been tough because the social aspect has been taken away but that is what we have to do in sacrifice in order to be able to play and get better each day.”

Failing to comply with restrictions set by coaches will lead to serious consequences for athletes. “Our coaches are clear, if anyone was to be caught at a party or gathering, you’re going to be off the team, no exceptions, we already got our warning,” Murana said. “Everyone is taking it seriously and guys would be honest [if they had symptoms].” 

Facing similar restrictions, swim team members and freshmen Meggie McPherson and Mollie Dillingham said it has been difficult to be confined to campus and their rooms, as well as miss out on traditions and events. 

“We’re definitely missing out on the big group activities. Every year the swim team goes on [a] camping trip and we weren’t able to [this year],” McPherson said. “We’re almost a month in and haven’t met the entire swim team or have all been in one place.”

Swimmers this year will potentially face cuts later in the season which is something to be considered by athletes.

“That is something our coaches have been saying: take into consideration if you screw up, there goes your spot,” Dillingham said. “We’re definitely missing out on a lot, but that’s kind of the price you have to pay to get to swim and be on a team.”

While the absence of normal social activities is difficult, McPherson looks up to swim captains who also set an example for the restrictions that need to be followed. “Our captains have been really good at making sure we are [being safe] and the fact that they are also doing it and explaining the why makes us want to stay safe and not go out,” McPherson said. 

Being aware of the influence athletes can have on other students on campus is also a factor in continuing to follow new rules. 

“Another source of motivation is people seeing you and recognizing you,” Murana said. “I know what my impact is, and I want to keep my spot on the team.”

Athletes across campus have recognized their impact and vow to do their part to keep the community safe as expressed through a video posted on @SLUBillikens Instagram page.

“I will make the right decisions all the time to ensure the health and safety of my teammates and campus community,” women’s soccer player Brionna Halverson said. “I’m in, we’re in, go Billikens.”