I wanted to send this out to all of you as an “update” on where we are with the Wildcat Hockey program. As you can imagine, COVID has put a damper on many things in recent months. As we get into mid-January, I feel it is necessary to update you all on some things associated with the program.
1. The safety of our team members and staff have been a priority since Covid hit us in March 2020. As we look to make a possible return, these same safety factors have not diminished. I can assure you that administratively, we are working hard within the resources we have to move the program forward. There have been and continue to be challenges, but I feel we are in a better place now than we have been in recent months.
2. Conditioning was approved for the fall for the team and we are required to get through a 7-day self-quarantine, as requested by President Robbins and the administration of the university. Once through this quarantine, normal weekly Covid antigen testing will commence. We are working closely with university officials on allowing the team and coaches to be added to the elevated testing protocols – similar to the NCAA teams on campus are doing now. This is a great step in allowing for us to return safely.
3. There is no word on formal practices (contact) or games at point. Several items need to be resolved that involved the protocols of other teams that we could play. There needs to be OK’s from the City of Tucson and Pima County health officials for the use of the TCC, and other variables. Let me assure you that I/we are working hard to meet those requirements that will be set before us.
4. I can give no timeline at this point on the return of hockey. I have daily discussions with Coach Berman about a variety of things and we are both very optimistic that we can play soon. With that being said, this entire situation is very fluid. We are working toward taking the necessary steps to be able to play and compete safely.
5. With Covid hitting when it did, it has placed havoc on campus as it related to budget. The hockey team is budgeted 100% through Campus Recreation and we have seen a significant hit in our revenues since March. We are in the process of working through these issues.
6. As of this writing, the ACHA is hoping for a championship sometime in April. While that is certainly our goal, we have seen numerous Division I teams cancel or withdraw their participation because of Covid-related things. If and when we do play this spring, I can assure you the schedule and protocols will look very different. There is no answer yet on fans in the TCC, and while we are working on practices and games for the future, much needs to happen before we get to that point.
Earlier this fall, I met with Coach Berman and discussed with him at length my optimism to conduct a season. I still think this is a possibility, but we have significant challenges that lay before us. I can assure you all – we are working hard to meet and exceed these challenges and to have some sort of a season. Nothing is guaranteed at this point and the best things we can do is condition safely as a team, complete the self-quarantine protocols are required by the university, continue antigen testing, and be cautious and advocate for CDC guidelines for all members of the team and fans. I promise you all, we will continue to work closely with university officials to try bring hockey back safely if we can.
Thank you all for your continued support,
Troy Vaughn, Director – Campus Recreation