Behind-the-scenes of MTSU’s COVID-ready athletic facilities

Sports

Season on the Brink

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee State University has used every inch of their athletic facility to maintain social distancing guidelines and adhere to COVID-19 protocols. They’ve made a lot of changes to prepare for training in the age of a pandemic.

“Everyone that makes their way onto any of our facilities has to come to this checkpoint, you cannot enter any facilities without this wrist band,” said Middle Tennessee’s head athletic trainer Drew Shea. “They’re also going to check your temperature.”

After that, you’re cleared to enter the facility.

“We really focus a lot on awareness and social distancing making sure they don’t forget. A reminder, make sure you’ve got your mask, you cant enter this room without this.”

The mask is just one part of keeping athletes safe in the training room. They’re adhering to social distancing guidelines and cleaning every touched surface in between athlete’s use. But, the safest place to be is outside so they’ve moved a lot of their indoor activities like weight training and meeting rooms.

“All the things they need to get ready for practice each day in the film room they’ve brought out here.”

What is August training camp without some of ice baths?

“So what we have here are our makeshift ice baths. The bigger tubs are for the bigger athletes, they’re singles, but everyone gets in.”

After all that it’s time to go out to the field, but the protocols don’t end there.

“You can see all the wagons are marked by their positions, so every athlete has their own water bottle and has their name on it. The coaches or the support staff at all times are in a mask.”

And the players have a mask of their own.

“What do you do for a guy who’s playing football? That’s the big question. We got what’s called a splash shield right here and it pretty much just attaches to to any helmet we have,” said Larry Maples, Assistant AD/Equipment. “So when guys are not in their traditional masks they still have a level of protection between them and whoever they’re going against right then.”

There’s a health risk playing sports in any year, so it’s all about making it work together.

“We still have to be concerned with people getting concussions,” said Shea. “We still have to worry about the day to day injuries that occur with athletics. It’s just a couple extra layers, but like I said. we’re all pulling it together.”

It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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