On Sep. 24, the college sports world was gifted the news that the Pac-12 would be resuming sports after previously being postponed. The Pac-12 was among the last conferences to do so, as the ACC and the Big-12 had already resumed. What led the charge was a letter sent to Governor Gavin Newsom written by USC football players with a message: “We Want To Play.”
The statement highlighted, “As we watched the NFL kick off over the weekend and our fellow college football players compete for the last few weeks, it left us wondering why we cannot join them.”
The USC football team assured Governor Newsom that it would adhere to all COVID-19 protocols and the risk of the virus spreading would be extremely low. The football team also believed there were too many restrictions to practice effectively. The players claimed that they were neither allowed to utilize their practice facilities nor allowed to practice as a team. Within ten days, Governor Newsom made the decision to ease the restrictions and allow the Pac-12 to play.
Stanford basketball forward James Keefe ‘19 said he was working out at home before being allowed on campus and practicing on Nov. 14.
Keefe noted, “It definitely can be tough as a student athlete with all of the uncertainty due to Covid, but I’m definitely being optimistic and doing as much as I can every day to get better.”
When asked if he is nervous that he and his teammates’ safety would be at risk, he remarked, “I don’t have much apprehension. Our coaches and training staff are taking great care of us and we are abiding by all of the proper safety protocols. We get daily testing here at Stanford. We also have to wear neck gators during training. There’s a lot of things that have changed really but I think what’s important is that we’re taking the necessary steps to keep us and the people around us safe. I’m very excited to get back to competing with my teammates. I can’t wait for our season to start.”
USC football safety Jordan McMillan ‘18 talks about how staying motivated was difficult and how important it was to motivate his teammates.
He said, “Motivation is for each other, especially in a time like this, the world has really brought the team together.”
The team plans to test every day at 6AM. McMillan has a little apprehension about this season, saying “Any cases [of Covid-19]would pose drastic problems to the depth chart so everybody has to be ready.” He explained how happy he was to get back to playing. “A lot has gone on in the past few months and it’s extremely reassuring to know we have a strong brotherhood. Looking forward to this disciplined, physical roster taking our talents to the Pac-12.”
Carson Kranz ‘19, a USC water polo driver, shares, “We have proceeded into our 6th week of training at USC still in no contact practices as of now.”
Kranz noted, “I’m not really scared of anything—I think the future is looking really bright right now and have high hopes for the season. We have strict guidelines at usc to make sure there are no covid outbreaks. We have a ‘Trojan Check’ of symptoms before going to campus including testing twice a week and masks at all times. During practice you must social distance.”
He added, “I’m looking forward to the spring and hopefully being in in-person classes next semester as well as the water polo season approaching while confirming the date for the NCAA tournament in March. Overall, I’ve had lots of time away from the pool and am extremely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to train again. I think the upcoming season is going to be really good for me to continue to grow as an athlete.”
Overall, it seems these athletes are excited to find out they will likely have seasons and they look forward to more in-person interactions.