For the Rock lacrosse team, a lot has changed in the past few months. At the end of their last season, coach Kelsey Van Alstyne stepped down and assistant Taryn Burkholder took over the job. While she may have a lot of things to figure out before the season, getting her team vaccinated isn’t something she’ll have to worry about.
“We came in after the summer, and pretty much all but two players were vaccinated, and I think those final two after hearing the protocols and the testing they would have to do, they decided to get vaccinated to take that worry off of the team,” Burkholder said. “It is really nice, and I think we’re the only PSAC lacrosse to be fully vaccinated.”
Those protocols that unvaccinated players have to follow are key to making sure that everyone is safe. Some of the protocols include weekly testing and also if they were to come into contact with anyone who had COVID-19, they would have to quarantine for up to 14 days.
“Even if someone were to become exposed, we don’t have to quarantine and we just have to get tested on day five,” Burkholder said.
With all the players being vaccinated though, it makes it easier on the entire team. They can get together with essentially no restrictions besides wearing a mask. This is extremely important, especially for workouts.
“Including the coaches and trainers, there is around 33 fully vaccinated people and we get shout outs in meetings, which is pretty cool,” Burkholder said. “The girls are super proud that we are the first fully vaccinated team.”
The team was swayed after they talked to Slippery Rock University President, William Behre, to get fully vaccinated. The team saw Behre at one of the tents in the first few days back on campus and asked him if he would pay for matching shoes for the entire team should they get everyone vaccinated.
“I asked what would it cost to buy matching shoes for the season?” Behre said.
The team back to him with a price of around $3,400. While unsure at first, Behre agreed to pay to half of the price if the team would cover the other half.
“I told them [the price] was a little steep, only because if I had to do an incentive for every team it would add up,” Behre said. “So, I said I’ll split it with you, and my budget is going to cover half the cost of matching shoes for the team.”
The team agreed and the incentive was enough to get those final few girls vaccinated and the team will rock matching shoes this upcoming season.
Another incentive for the entire campus is that if the population is to reach around a 70-75% vaccination rate, then the discussion to drop masks can begin according to President Behre. But he did say so cautiously, as he also noted that the variants have been running rampant throughout the US, so even then masks may be a mainstay in order to keep people safe.
President Behre made it clear that he was proud of the team, but he also used it as a springboard to encourage other students to get vaccinated.
“I think [getting vaccinated] is extremely important, and I don’t know how we got to the point where a basic medical decision is a political issue, frankly I think it is the silliest thing on Earth,” Behre said. “We’ll do anything we can do within reason to encourage people to make a smart health decision.”