Latest on COVID-19 testing for student-athletes


Alexandria Leland

Utica College student-athletes are required to test at least three times a week for COVID-19 when their sport is in season.

Matthew Robinson, Staff Writer

Last season, athletes at Utica College were required to test for COVID-19 three times a week. Later on in the year, the testing protocols switched and became rapid testing before games, matches or meets. 

Now that the majority of student-athletes are vaccinated against COVID-19, some wonder if student-athletes are still on such a rigid testing schedule.

According to Emergency Management Director Shad Crowe, all testing protocols by the NCAA and Empire 8 remain the same. That is, athletes are required to test three times a week if the sport is in season. 

Keeping the positive cases at a minimum is the number one priority and the college has done well with keeping the numbers relatively low. As seen by President Laura Casamento’s latest statistical update as of Oct. 27, the college’s positivity rate remains below 1%. 

It also helps that local numbers are declining, which could mean normalcy is right around the corner for the Utica College athletes.

“Oneida County’s numbers have plateaued and have been dropping gradually,” Crowe said. ”We have not had too many cases of athletes testing positive. If there’s a case, we will follow all guidelines by the school, state and county.” 

Many student-athletes didn’t enjoy taking COVID-19 tests three times per week last year. Junior soccer player Fred Holmes wasn’t thrilled with waking up earlier sometimes to get tested, but at the end of the day, he knew it was done to ensure safety.

“I remember last year the testing for athletes was more intense, but now I feel like athletes know to get tested because it feels like a routine at this point,” Holmes said. “There hasn’t seemed to be a problem with anyone testing positive so I hope everything keeps going as smoothly as it is.”

As cold weather is approaching in Utica and some winter teams have begun their seasons, there is some hope that protocols with events will ease up shortly and things will feel more “normal” again. 

“Cases at the school have been relatively low, which gives me a couple indications that, number one, vaccines are working and number two, people are being responsible when they should be,” Crowe said.  

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the athletic training room, locker rooms, weight lifting areas and other facilities have been gradually opening up to a fuller capacity. Having that taken away last year was unfortunate for students and athletes and many are grateful athletic facilities are open again. 

“It feels great to be able to lift in the dome with the whole team at once,” sophomore lacrosse player Jeff Kopek said. “It will be a great advantage for us going into the spring having the dome to use during the winter, which includes the turf field and track as well. One of the better things that comes to mind is that we don’t have to wear a mask while we are playing, which will feel a lot more comfortable.”