Railey Borman, Campus Carrier asst. sports editor
Before the semester began, Berry took several precautions to prevent an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, including suspending all fall sports competitions. Due to a spike in positive cases on campus, all practices were put on hold from Sept. 16 to Oct. 8 but will now resume in phases according to an email from the President’s Office.
But student athletes who compete in regular season games are not the only athletes being affected by the conference cancellations, practice suspensions and COVID-19 regulations. Those who generate excitement and school spirit during sporting events are being forced to adjust to the repercussions as well.
The cheerleading team is unable to practice due to restrictions surrounding large group gatherings. In-person tryouts are normally held in April with the team continuing to practice cheers over the summer. During the semester, the cheerleading team practices twice a week for two hours to prepare for football games according to head coach, Leslie Pledger.
“We come in a week before school starts and we normally have camp,” Pledger said. “That is where we learn the majority of our stunts and pyramids. As soon as school starts, we are normally practicing twice a week, Monday and Thursday nights.”
Football games begin roughly two weeks into the school year with cheerleaders participating in tailgates as well as leading cheers during the game. But this year, tryouts were conducted through video submissions and there have been no in-person practices in order to abide by social distancing rules.
According to Pledger, the girls on the team have not had the opportunity to meet each other in-person yet either.
“There are still cheerleaders that I have not had the opportunity to meet in person and as a team, no, they have not met,” Pledger said.
The team captain, junior Macey Daniels, said the biggest challenge for her was adjusting to not being able to see her family as often since they usually attend home football games regularly throughout the semester.
“I haven’t seen my family at all this semester because they used to come to the games every Saturday and now they’re not allowed on campus,” Daniels said.
According to Daniels, what she misses most about participating in games is waking up early to tailgate and seeing all the fans and people who come out to support Berry.
“I miss waking up and tailgating and getting to see my family,” Daniels said. “Getting together and seeing all the fans, and all the people who support Berry is probably what I miss the most.”
Although the 2020-21 season looks different than in years past, Pleger maintains a positive attitude and is still hopeful that things will be better in the spring.
“It’s not the season we want it to be, but we will be ready whenever and if the school decides that we will have basketball,” Pledger said. “I believe that during this unprecedented time we have to pull together and just do what we can do.”
The drumline is another group on campus whose practice schedule took a hit when the semester began. The Berry College drumline consists of about 20 members who, during a normal season, practice two times a week. The drumline usually plays during football games, volleyball games, basketball games and other school spirit events.
“The drumline has been a good idea to generate a lot of school spirit, since we do not have a marching band,” drumline director, John David, said.
Like the cheerleading team, COVID-19 social distancing policies and the fact that there are no sporting events to perform for has caused the drumline to put a pause on practices and impacted the group dynamic as a whole.
“Once you lose a few members to quarantine, the group doesn’t function,” David said. “It has been a challenge because we love the camaraderie, the social aspect of having a group like that and sort of providing school spirit and energy for all events.”
Junior Katie Horn, member of the drumline, also misses the social aspect of the team.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Horn said. “We are like a big family.”
Despite a difficult start to the season, David hopes that the drumline will be allowed to resume practicing and performing in the spring.
“We’ve just got to be safe and do the smartest things we can do and hopefully we can get back to normal soon,” David said.
The immediate future for these groups is uncertain at this time, but if spring sporting events take place, they are prepared to begin practicing and performing again.