Flu season: Influenza affects Athletic Department

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The illness that has made its way around campus in recent weeks has been called a plague, epidemic and wipeout for its crushing effect on students in the midst of their academic work week, but especially for the its particular effect on their athletic endeavors.

“This kind of outbreak is unprecedented,” track and field coach Matt Barber said. “I’m an alum and have usually seen small bugs go around that affect particular groups, but never something so intense as this — it’s sweeping the whole population.”

Of Barber’s 32 runners, 14 are out sick.

Women’s lacrosse coach Destinee Johnson says that half of her team is out with the illness.

“I’m sending [players] to the doctor for high fevers at this point,” Johnson said. “I’m not too worried about the impact that it will have on our team in terms of performance, but we are realistically missing eight out of our usual 16 girls.”

However capable the sports teams are of bouncing back to perform after illness, the fact that half of a team is missing is no small matter, especially considering the physical effects that the sickness has on the players.

“I’ve never seen this happen to such a degree,” men’s lacrosse coach Sam Ashton said. “It just makes everything harder — harder to prepare for game plays, harder in terms of keeping up with conditioning and fitness — it just hurts practices in general.”

Several in-season coaches mentioned that they advise their athletes to stay at home and rest. Many student athletes, upon visitng the on-campus clinic, are told to remain within their dorms in order to prevent the further spread of illness.

“These types of illnesses spread quickly, especially when the team is in such close contact,” Ashton said. “It’s hard to build chemistry when guys are missing practices, but it is better that they aren’t out there to spread the germs to the healthy guys. We [who are well] have been washing our hands a lot to make sure that we don’t catch any part of the flu as the season approaches.”

In addition to missing practices, players are worried about the effects that the illness will have on their physical fitness and academic pursuits.

“I’ve just gotten back from being sick,” freshman mid-distance track runner Mary Rose Corkery said. “I’m definitely worried about low performance on our upcoming events this next week. I feel a lot weaker now and have fallen behind — I’m no longer able to do the full workouts.”

Other athletes who have been out sick mentioned that they now face an uphill battle in the already difficult struggle of balancing academic work, extracurricular commitments, and time with friends in the midst of their strenuous workouts.

The reactions of the coaches and players toward this illness are naturally negative, but they range from serious concern to disbelief. The fact of the matter is, however, that this illness will most certainly have a lasting impact on the state of University of Dallas sports this spring.

Some coaches seem to believe that this “plague” or “epidemic” is something of particular concern to the Athletic Department, especially as spring seasons open, but some, like baseball coach Joe Myers, retain a rather skeptical view of the whole situation.

“I think it’s all mental,” Myers said.

 

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