The Long Beach State women’s basketball team has been practicing outdoors at the Rhodes Tennis Center after months of dealing with coronavirus-related restrictions.
Outdoor practices began for the Beach’s basketball programs on Oct. 12.
Regardless of weekly testing and new guidelines players have to now follow, including maintaining a social distance of up to six feet, many athletes are looking forward to playing basketball again.
“We are super excited and super happy that we can finally touch a ball again,” Justina King, a third-year point guard said.
Athletic director Andy Fee said that he is grateful for the players and coaches because “we could very easily not be playing or practicing basketball.”
“I think they’re anxious to get inside, which we as an administration are anxious and excited to do that as well. Hopefully next week, we’ll transition and see what public health says,” Fee said. “We’re waiting for the final answer from them on transitioning from outdoor to indoor practice.”
Recently, the athletic department was given a donation by a local donor for $400,000 towards costs associated with COVID-19 testing for student athletes.
Players are required by the Los Angeles Public Health Department to take a PCR test, or a polymerase chain reaction test, the “Cadillac of COVID-19 rests” as Fee calls them, twice a week. According to Fee, costs of the PCR test range anywhere from about $120 to $135 each.
“Our hope is that the price continues to drop and continues to come down,” Fee said. “Certainly, as a resource-challenged institution, as great as you know our donors have been, we want to make sure that the testing is not going to go away.”
Prior to this announcement, players remained active with home workout videos provided by their strength and conditioning coach, Jackson Reed.
Players were still able to do abs, squats and cardio exercises even though indoor facilities are closed on campus for the fall semester.
While some players are excited to start practices again, others have been finding it difficult to adjust to the new outdoor practice setting.
“They’ve been going good, it’s very weird because…we aren’t allowed to touch each other’s balls or give each other high fives,” Ma’qhi Berry, a third-year redshirt point guard, said. “So we really just have to use our voice to give each other energy.”
Even though outdoor practices may not be what they are used to, the workouts are still sufficient enough to help prepare them for conference games which will start on Dec. 27 .
“As far as conditioning, shooting and stuff like that, as long as we are giving our full effort, I think we should be fine,” said Naomi Hunt, a third-year redshirt small forward.
The women’s basketball team is scheduled to play University of California, Riverside on Dec. 27.
Jacob Powers, sports editor, contributed to the reporting of this article.