Rushmore Gymnasium closed (copy)

Athletic facilities at Western Wyoming Community College were temporarily closed during the fall 2020 semester due to the coronavirus. As practices and play has resumed, Mustangs are working to be strong, focused and together.

ROCK SPRINGS — Mustang Athletics returns to competitive play in 2021. Western Wyoming Community College is competing in men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling and women’s soccer. After a postponement of competitions in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19, the Mustangs began games and matches in mid-January for indoor sports, with championships slated for late March and early April. Women’s soccer competitions kick off at the beginning of April and conclude with championships at the end of May.

Under the leadership of Western Wyoming Community College as well as the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), Mustang Athletics remains even more committed to supporting student-athletes and coaches during COVID-19.

“We are always trying to be supportive but are trying to be even more forward thinking in these trying times. We are using many of the strategies developed by the NJCAA to help our student-athletes remain: strong, focused and together,” athletic director Lu Sweet said.

BEING STRONG

— Providing student-athletes with tips to stay healthy – personal care, nutrition, mental health, physical fitness, etc.

— Implementing proper health and safety measures in compliance with local, county and state regulations as well as those set forth by Region IX and the NJCAA.

— Testing all athletes, coaches and managers at least one time per week.

— Wearing masks, washing hands, sanitizing equipment, facilities and uniforms between practices and competitions, doing daily symptom checks and temperature checks and social distancing as much as is possible.

— Developing workout programs for student-athletes to complete at home or in isolation when necessary.

— Facilitating competitive opportunities for student-athletes as much as possible, even though things will look different. Examples included not allowing fans in the stands, which has since been revised to allow limited fans. There are also different game and match protocols such as no handshaking and mask-wearing on the benches.

BEING FOCUSED

— Motivating student-athletes to remain focused to successfully complete their academic courses through whatever modes of delivery we can — in-person, virtual or online.

— Encouraging student-athletes to establish long and short-term goals for themselves as people, students and athletes.

— Helping student-athletes establish consistent and healthy daily routines.

— Scheduling times for a virtual team study halls, tutoring sessions and team meetings when possible.

— Connecting student-athletes with college academic and career support services as well as any other resources they may need.

— Repeatedly asking student-athletes if they have needs that are not being met to help them succeed.

BEING TOGETHER

— Encouraging coaches to schedule virtual or in-person team meetings once a week regarding needs, feelings, questions or concerns related to COVID or other issues not necessarily about their sport or their academics.

— Requiring student-athletes to check-in several times per week.

— Creating small peer groups of students-athletes that can connect with each other daily for support.

— Participating in community service opportunities safely.

— Sharing thought-provoking videos or articles to help with motivation.

— Reminding student-athletes that even with competition schedules changing and things still a bit uncertain, they need to remember the “why” and still have “hope” that we will be competing.

“They need to see the big picture and understand that the things we are doing now, won’t need to be in place forever,” Dr. Sweet said.

For more information on the NJCAA Forward strategies see the story at rocketminer.com.

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