NSU Athletics upholds Fork ’em spirit with COVID-19 protcols


Chris Reich

NSU’s Director of Athletics Greg Burke noted that athletic programs are always looking to overcome adversity.

Student athletes at Northwestern State University of Louisiana will see only a few new changes in restrictions and protocols this fall.

Athletics sees an important aspect of making protocols less intense than they were just a year ago, according to NSU’s Director of Athletics Greg Burke.

“In a word, I think it’s vaccination,” Burke said.

Burke mentioned that athletes couldn’t test out of COVID-19 a year ago and if they tested positive, they would have to be quarantined for 10 to 14 days.

Even with restrictions, Northwestern State’s student athletes notched around 1,600 hours of community service during the 2020-2021 season alone.

“When you’re part of an athletic program, you’re all about overcoming adversity,” Burke said. “And I think the 2021 year gave us an opportunity not just to talk-that-talk but to walk-that-walk.”

From the perspective of Northwestern State student athletes, their routines aren’t much different from last year’s protocols.

“Nothing has mostly changed from last year to this year,” Bryce Potter, senior defensive specialist for Lady Demons Volleyball, said.

Potter also said the only difference was unvaccinated people still have to get tested twice a week, while also wearing a mask when not actively playing in matches.

“Only non-vaccinated people have to get tested and in the weight room we have to wear a mask, but it’s up to the coaching staff to decide that,” Autumn Gentry, junior setter for Lady Demons Volleyball, said. “Things are just a little more lenient since most of the team is vaccinated already.”

Fall sports such as volleyball and football witnessed some drastic changes. Volleyball had a shortened season and football was pushed to the spring.

“I think early on not having the knowledge of COVID, going through a season that was postponed and having the opportunity to play in the spring was a unique opportunity for our guys,” Brad Laird, head football coach for the Demons, said.

When asked about the pandemic and the effects it had on meetings, practices, workouts and games, Laird talked about a variety of unknowns with restrictions.

“The biggest upside was the ability to use Zoom and Webex, using different ways to communicate with our guys besides just face-to-face,” Laird said. “I guess you could say having the opportunity to get vaccinated is another thing that is different now compared to when COVID first came about.”

The Northwestern State Demons will start their season on Sept. 4 where they will face off against the North Texas Mean Green.