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Texas State senior men's volleyball player Ben Simon (7) spikes the ball in a match, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, at the University of Texas.

After 16 months of quarantine and virtual learning, Texas State is back to business-as-usual and so are its club sports teams.

Club teams have not participated in league competitions since March 2020. Teams were only allowed to have no-contact, conditioning-only practices during the hiatus and could not compete or travel while representing the university. This rule was put in place to limit close contact between all players during the COVID-19 pandemic but was lifted on Aug. 9.

With the start of the 2021-22 school year, club teams are now free to travel and compete at their own discretion.

Assistant Club Sports Director Mario Rios says while most operations will return to how they were before the pandemic, there continue to be practices in place to keep athletes as safe as possible.

"We'll be doing a lot of the same things we normally do," Rios said. "For those that are on campus, we'll keep track of who attends practices, that sort of thing. Off-campus, the clubs will have to self-report that information to us regarding who is attending the practices ... obviously for any potential contact tracing issue that we may still have at the beginning of this new academic year."

Triathlon Club President Monica Trevino says one of her main concerns with the return of club sports is building connections throughout her team. She says she hopes her team can develop a partner system to pair athletes by their skill level.

"I know that during COVID a lot of teams experienced that they lost that sense of team," Trevino, an English senior, said. "I'm really hoping we can work on that this next season ... We're going to create kind of tiers. Our bottom tier [will be] people wanting to try out triathlon who've never done it. We're going to have that group together so they all can learn together. Our second tier, people who've kind of done a triathlon, and then our top tier is going to be the people who really want to advance and have already been competing. I'm hoping we can do that and social events as well."

Trevino adds the team may continue to practice protocols the university put in place during the spring semester such as pods with limited group sizes or masks.

"I know that there's a spike again. With the new strand so that's something we would really consider," Trevino said. "[We] may be enforcing masks again when we're in groups and then once we're out, practicing, we can take them off. Or maybe just distancing ourselves again."

Employees for the Sports Club department such as Jaylin Glover, a business management senior, have also returned to work and are ready to pick up where they left off while still being conscious of the virus. Sports Club employees are responsible for supervising all sports teams and ensuring Texas State facilities are used appropriately.

"We want to prevent COVID-19 from spreading," Glover said. "We do as much as we can to prevent that from happening. Previously ... we were more liable to provide something for the players, such as water, but now we have to set certain restrictions and let players know that they have to bring water bottles."

Texas State offers 35 different sports clubs. Students of any skill level can join. Teams compete with colleges across the state and nationally.

For more information about Texas State’s club sports visit https://www.campusrecreation.txstate.edu/sport-clubs.html.

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