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gavin woods

Being a Student-Athlete During Covid-19

Volume 37, Issue 2





When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early March 2020, the impact on Tiffin University student-athletes was immediate and intense. Winter and spring seasons were suddenly paused, and students were sent home to finish out the semester with online courses.

“It was emotional when we were sent home,” said Gavin Woods, a senior wide receiver on TU’s football team. “We were unsure if we would return to campus or even have a fall season. Everything was so unknown during that time. When everything was canceled, it was very heartbreaking.”

Luckily for Woods, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cancel sports for good – it only changed the way sports functioned. Tiffin University executed a phased return to athletic activities with smaller group practices, virtual meetings and postponed competitions. According to Woods, the football team started in groups of nine people for workouts and then gradually worked into team sessions.

The University’s Athletic Department also followed numerous safety precautions. The football team took temperature checks, wore masks and practiced social distancing whenever possible. “During practices, if you were not on the field during a play, you were on the sideline standing six feet apart from one another,” he said. “We also limited contact tracing by using our own water bottles. The athletic trainer would fill them so only one person touched the refill station.” Woods also mentioned that the football team plans to get clear splash shields for the helmets, which would act as a mask while playing.

Woods looked forward to competing in the spring. “Having our season postponed opened my eyes. I realized that anything could be taken away at any time without warning. I learned to cherish my sport, take one day at a time and take advantage of every opportunity to practice and play the sport I love.”

After nearly a year, Woods played once again on the football field. His senior year was completed by competing in the spring 2021 season. He believes that none of it would have been possible without the University’s rigorous health and safety procedures.

“We are fortunate to have the support from the University’s coaches, staff and administration to protect its students and give student-athletes an opportunity to play. There were many schools in our conference that shut down because of COVID, but TU did a great job keeping us safe and taking precautions seriously.”

Gavin Woods graduated in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in finance, with a minor in management. He plans to pursue his MBA in data analytics from Tiffin University.