The Fort Lewis College men’s basketball team was without two key players last weekend in an overtime loss because of confirmed COVID-19 cases after the team returned from winter break. Now, the Skyhawks have postponed at least two games scheduled for this weekend because of a third case.
A positive test result revealed Thursday led FLC to postpone a Friday night home game against Colorado Christian University as well as a Sunday home contest against Metro State University-Denver.
“The most important thing is the health of our players,” FLC head coach Bob Pietrack said. “We have to digest that we are living in a time right now where things aren’t always going to go as planned. Wherever the ball lies, we will play it when it is time. Right now, we will pause activities and just make sure everyone is healthy.”
FLC (2-3, 1-3 RMAC) got through the first semester without any positive COVID-19 cases. The players’ return home for a week-long winter break is what has led to new positive cases on the team.
Last week, a player who was sick tested negative multiple times. This week, test results came back positive, leading to a seven-day quarantine for the entire team which had been in contact with the player. FLC does not release the names of players who test positive for privacy reasons.
“We had issues with the break and coming back from it,” Pietrack said. “It’s important that everyone realizes we are doing everything we can to prevent anybody in athletics from getting coronavirus, but there are so many moving parts to it. Even with great leadership from the top of our institution down, some things are uncontrollable. In a situation like this, we have to stay flexible and stay positive toward our players and provide leadership in a positive manner knowing we have better days coming.
“When something like this happens, you go from being a coach to feeling like a parent hoping your kids are healthy.”
FLC is the last men’s team in the 15-team Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference to have positive COVID-19 cases within its program. FLC had four previous games postponed because of COVID-19 issues with their opponents.
The FLC women’s program has had two instances of having to quarantine this season.
Now, the Skyhawks have lost four conference home games on the schedule because of the virus and have played only two home conference games. Colorado Christian announced it would make every effort to reschedule the game in Durango against the Skyhawks. Pietrack is unsure of what any future rescheduling of lost games will look like as of now.
The status of next week’s road trip to Chadron State in Nebraska is also uncertain, as FLC will be in a quarantine through at least next Wednesday and would have only one day to practice before traveling.
“We will follow the CDC guidelines completely. Once we are cleared to play again and get adequate practice time, we will be back on the court,” Pietrack said. “We’ve been prepared for moments like this because of the excellent leadership on our campus from President Tom Stritikus, and our athletic director, Brandon Leimbach, has been on top of everything.
“We have hopes to reschedule games, but in these circumstances we can’t worry about the schedule. We will focus on when our next practice is to give our student-athletes a chance to have activity. If there is a game and we can compete, that’s great. If not, we won’t play. This virus situation has been like a wildfire in the summer. I don’t know which way it is going.”