The start of the 2020-21 basketball season is quickly approaching, and the 49er women kicked off their season on Oct. 14, with their first practice of the season. As the men’s team was also set to start practice, activities have been put on pause for the program as they reported seven cases of COVID-19 on Oct. 13.
According to a notice released by the University, the positive cases were discovered through self-reporting of symptoms through the school’s daily Niner Health checks. The cases reported is being identified as a cluster. This is the first cluster reported by UNC Charlotte.
"The individuals are in isolation with proper medical care, and the University's contact tracing team is currently notifying any affected members of the UNC Charlotte community to begin quarantine protocols,” said the NinerNotice. "All practices and in-person meetings for the basketball team have been suspended until all remaining student-athletes and staff are cleared through subsequent testing.”
Nonetheless, the women’s team started things on schedule after NCAA college basketball was pushed back to a Nov. 25 season start date due to the coronavirus.
“Basketball season is here. While we may be starting late I feel that there is still the same anticipation and excitement,” 49er women's head coach Cara Consuegra said in her opening statement to the media on the first day of practice.
The veteran coach feels that even though this is an unusual time and unusual circumstances, the team will still be ready each and every game with the same amount of drive and intensity.
New COVID-19 protocol was a key point, and Consuegra thanked the 49er athletic department for their hard work in preparing the team and making sure that they are healthy.
When asked about how the team is dealing with COVID-19, Consuegra said, “You can do everything right and it still can infiltrate your program.”
Out of the entire team, there are only three in-person classes that team members are taking which limits in-person contact to further prevent potential spikes and cases within the team. The university in recent days have transitioned back to in-person classes but not fully.
Consuegra knows things can change a lot during the season as players' availability will sometimes be in question due to not only injuries, but COVID-19 related issues.
“I go back to the mentality that I have to control what I can," said Consuerga.
Even if schedules get changed, Consuerga will make sure her team is ready to play at all times.
49er guard Mariah Linney said that the transition to the “new norm” has gone smooth while it isn’t easier to adapt to being a student during these times.
“The university has done a good job at adjusting and being safe, as well as caring for the students," said Linney.
Mariah was asked about the upcoming season and the goals of the upcoming season and she said that, “I felt that we could have gone all the way in our conference tournament last year.” She said that taking it one day at a time and preparing for each game is key.
The 49er women’s basketball team is on schedule to start their season on time assuming there are no cases reported. As of now, there’s no reason to believe the men’s team will start their season with any delay.