Iowa coaches express concerns during COVID-19

Coaches from multiple Hawkeye sports discussed the risks with their teams, families, and themselves in order to hold their respective seasons.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder calls a formation during a women’s basketball match between Iowa and Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers, 91-85, in double overtime.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

After an abrupt end to many seasons in March because of COVID-19, Iowa teams are back to practice.

Both athletes and coaches put their health at risk to play the game they love coming back to practices. Despite stringent protocols, including weekly testing and mandatory mask wearing, 237 student-athletes and others within the athletic department have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Oct. 5.

Coaches are doing everything they can to keep themselves and their families safe.

Lisa Bluder, head women’s basketball coach, is worried about getting COVID-19 not only for personal health reasons, but also for the sake of her team.

“The reason I don’t want to get [COVID-19] is not just for health reasons, but also for our competitive season,” Bluder said. “Because we’ll be removed from practice, whether that happens now and you miss two or three weeks of practice, or whether it happens during the season and you miss six games, none of that is any good.”

Bluder said any of her coaches getting COVID-19 would be severely detrimental to practices and running the team.

Lisa Cellucci, head field hockey coach, is committed to making sure her family and her team is safe.

“I try to be as careful as possible, just to protect myself, my family, and most importantly the team and my staff that I’m around,” Cellucci said.

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Head women’s gymnastics coach Larissa Libby emphasized the difficulty of putting her family aside to focus on her athletes.

“My job was to keep them safe and keep them healthy –– to get them ready to train,” Libby said. “I think that people eliminate the faction of — the head coaches are drowning. It’s really hard … I am putting everything, including my own family, aside to make sure that someone else’s kids are taken care of. And I know that, I’ve always done that … I think I’ve aged 25 years in one week.”

Despite the hardships and concerns for their families and teams, Libby and Bluder commended the athletics medical team for their vigilance in developing regulations for practice.

Bluder said the medical team has done a great job of handling regulations and testing, and Libby said athletic trainers are working overtime to make sure the teams have proper safety measures in place at all times.

When their seasons start, Cellucci, Bluder, and Libby anticipate being tested every day.

Bluder said that, while she isn’t worried about being at different schools, she is worried about needing to fly in airplanes or stay at hotels. She said she is confident that the opposing team will have the same strict testing protocols as Iowa, but can’t say the same for other people, such as flight attendants or hotel employees.

Libby, however, said the main concern she has about traveling to different schools is making sure the opposing team follows the same protocols that the Big Ten will put in place.

“By the time we get to that point, a lot of the Big Ten has been talking for months about the types of things that are required, so there is a standard protocol,” Libby said. “I think that that is the concern everywhere, like how will we know that somebody else hasn’t done what we’ve done.”