Pandemic Weight Room Restrictions


Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

Despite the threat of COVID-19, the BVU weight room remains an active destination and an important resource for students on campus. BVU Athletics has implemented new policies and protocols for using weight-room equipment. 

On the evening of August 10th, the American Rivers Conference stood alone. The last Conference of Division 3 Athletics held out to hopefully play their Fall season, albeit with modifications and restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The next day would prove critical for Buena Vista University in determining how the school would respond to the prevention of the airborne disease as Fall athletes would report on the morning of the 11th. 

Unfortunately, they never got their answer. The very morning student-athletes had planned to begin practice for their shortened seasons, the ARC pulled the plug on Fall competition. The last Division 3 conference in the nation to concede to COVID. 

However, an opportunity was presented to the BVU Athletics teams; the additional time before games could prove a positive for team bonding, extra practice, and adjusting to life under enhanced health regulation. 

Seeing opportunity at the ready, Head BVU Women’s Soccer Benton Frayne and his squad prepared to take advantage of the Fall downtime.  

“We’ve put a huge emphasis on practice. Let’s try and have three practices a week after preseason,” says Coach Frayne. “We looked at the weight room as a place to build habits that are lifelong. ‘Enjoy the weight room, learn the weight room,’ those are things we’re looking for them to do so we’ve hoped we’ve made a foundation.” 

Alongside Director of Athletic Performance Joshua Cue, the Women, the other BVU Athletics teams and the full student body committed to following the same regulations in the weight room as they would outside or in the serve.” 

“You had to wear a mask and you could pull your mask down when lifting but once you’re done with your set the mask goes back on,” says Cue. “We had assigned lifting groups…for the contact tracing.”  

Kris Mintle (top) spots Curtis Near (bottom) during a set of Bench Press.

Cue makes note of his added responsibility, after every lift and during dedicated “break times” Cue is tasked with meticulously spraying and wiping down the used equipment. Alongside Coach Cue, the student-athletes were asked to do the same to prevent spread by touch. 

“I tried to eliminate walking around and usage of the dumbbells to isolate ourselves in that regard,” adds Cue. 

But since the full student body has returned to campus, the dynamic has changed. Early signs were promising, but after an entire floor on Pierce-White had to be put into isolation after a student tested positive on Day One, the outlook has become bleaker. 

On Tuesday, August 31st the call was made to indefinitely suspend all gathered athletic events for all teams across campus due to rising cases in the student body. 

In the past week, there’s been over 10+ positive cases across BVU, many student-athletes included. Alongside those testing positive being sent into quarantine, the countless friends and peers they come in contact with during their everyday lives have been sent home. 

Now, the weight room becomes even more important for Coach Frayne, Coach Cue, the BVU Athletics department, and those looking to stay physically healthy to combat COVID-19. 

“There can only be 20 people in here max at one time. From 10 am to 2 pm it’s lighter in numbers. You have to wear a mask at all times…everyone’s just a little bit more condensed than on their own,” says Cue. 

Photos by Tanner Frost

With times previously dedicated to BV Athletics teams working out in the weight room now gone, the room is open from 10:00-2:00 and 7:00-10:00 at night on weekdays and 1:00-4:00 on the weekends for all potential visitors. 

For Coach Frayne and the BVU Women’s Soccer team, the weight room continues to prove its importance despite the lack of organized lifting times. 

“It’s a stress reliever, mental health. Getting outside and knocking the ball around; doing something that resembles their sport. That’s what we’re focusing on right now. Academics are picking up, workstudy, but a lot of our team uses soccer as that stress reliever and opportunity to get out and do something,” Frayne adds. 

“We want to build a culture and expectations. We have 10 new BV students so losing that team connection and comradery is really hard to replace. We want to be together but it’s about safety and longevity. Can we have a season in the Spring? If we have to do these things now I’d rather do it now than come March getting so close to the season and then dialing it back,” says Frayne. 

For BVU students who do not participate in Athletics, the same restrictions apply. 

Many including avid lifter Curtis Near, a common sight during the afternoons in the Lamberti Rec Center, is happy the room is open but still faces the same issues as athletes. 

“Lifting with a mask on makes it really hard to breathe and I already have asthma so it’s a double thing. The lift times ya know, you gotta schedule around that. I wish the weight room was a little more open and free but you gotta do what you gotta do,” says Near. 

For all of BVU, the weight room and its leadership continue to help student-athletes and students on campus any way they can. 

While waiting for a potential return to practice and organized lifting times, BVU Athletics have to work around safety restrictions to halt further infection rates across campus. 

Coach Cue assures the student body that he will do his best to keep all who enter the Rec Center safe and they should help to do the same.

“There’s nothing to be worried about if you’re following the rules and your mask is always on. I love watching everybody follow the rules. I was a little worried going into this because I thought I would have to be coaching people up to put their mask on but that hasn’t been an issue. But I wouldn’t be afraid, this thing’s probably cleaner than it’s ever been,” says Cue.