Adrian College Athletic Director Micheal Duffy: Sports During Covid-19

Covid-19 took the world by storm, and positioned the whole world to come to a pause. Restaurant and grocery stores were shut down, schools were forced to close, and athletics from the professionals to little league were put to a halt. As summer of 2020 came to an end and colleges and universities were scheduled to reopen, the word “normal” would become a goal. Colleges and universities were faced with the tasks of creating a safe and healthy environment, not only for their students and faculty but also for their student athletes. Adrian College’s Athletic Director, Micheal Duffy was one who was faced with the obstacle of finding strategic tactics and protocols to create a safe and healthy environment for the Adrian College Student Athletes, as well as the opponent’s traveling to the campus of Adrian College. As the athletic and academic school year draws to a close, Athletic Director Micheal Duffy shared his comments and thoughts about the athletic year during the pandemic. 

“As the school year began, we [Adrian Athletics] prepared hard to do our best,” Duffy stated when asked about concerns at the beginning of the year. “We have never been through times like this where the whole world just stops… so at the beginning of the school year we were sorta “guessing” on tactics, as well as follow what protocols were to be implemented by the CDC but came together and created a great plan to help slow the spread and keep our student athletes safe, as well as the whole campus,” Duffy expressed.

Before the school year began, Adrian College required all students to be tested for Covid-19, 7 days before returning to campus. Duffy stated, “The fall athletes did a fantastic job returning to campus. Only 2 out of the 300 plus fall student athletes tested positive prior to returning to campus.” AC Student Athletes were faced with some challenges as well to be allowed to compete. Student athletes were tested 3 times a week, if an athlete was to test positive for Covid-19, that athlete would be put into isolation for 10 days and contact tracing would be done to quarantine the students exposed to the virus. 

As the school year began to take off in full blast, so did the spread of Covid-19. Adrian College saw a drastic spike in positive Covid-19 tests, the campus was forced to convert to remote-learning as classes were moved to online and all Adrian Athletics were put to a stop. “As the number of positive cases increased, everyone went into a panic… I gathered everyone’s composure and just told them ‘Keep calm, we are going to just go on a little pause for right now’” Duffy said. “We went online for classes for two weeks, sports were put on halt and as the 14 days finished, we slowly took baby steps to get our athletes back and running… I held zoom meetings with coaches and higher members and discussed ways and protocols that would be put in place to be able to continue our athletic season. 

After the 14 days were done, Adrian Athletics slowly got back in motion. AC would see a major improvement on their positive Covid-19 cases, results were domanilaty negative and the spread of the virus began to decrease. “A lot of credit has to go to the student athletes,” Duffy continued. “The dramatic increase in cases came from social gatherings, I would say… working for a college, I know it is hard to avoid the temptations of going out with friends and others but I believe these student athletes saw that being able to compete and practice was more important than a night out with friends. Our athletes followed all protocols implemented and adapted to every new protocol with no hesitation,” said Duffy. “Our athletes did an amazing job, they stayed calm, they followed everything they needed to do to continue their season, and they also helped a lot by voicing their concerns and opinions. Showing us new or even better ways to keep themselves protected from the virus to continue competition,” Duffy expressed with gratitude.

As the semester comes to an end and spring and remaining fall athletics approach the end of their seasons, Micheal Duffy shared his final comments. “I would say this was definitely a different school year I have ever experienced but I believe it was a learning experience. Not only for us in the Athletic department but the campus and world as a whole.” Micheal Duffy concluded with, “As this year comes to an end, I do believe Covid-19 will still be a factor in the world and if so I feel we are better prepared. Hopefully with summer being around the corner and the weather warming up, allowing people to be outside I believe the spread of Covid will decrease. I feel by the start of the Fall 2021 semester, we will be more immune to the virus. Also with the vaccine being released, I suggest people go out and get vaccinated as well. If we all continue to do our part, I believe we will be able to return to normal sooner than expected.” 

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