UCLA soccer coach Chip Kelly understands that players are thrilled with “another group opportunity” this season, but admitted that the rise in COVID-19 cases is worrying.
The Bruins haven’t worked on their final exams for much of last week before returning to their regular training schedule this week to prepare for the Holiday Cup game against 18th-ranked North Carolina State on December 28 in San Diego.
“The health and safety of our players is number one,” said Kelly. “Our (preparation) was good and I’m sure NC State’s preparation was good. The only thing that can distract him is a potential outbreak. “
Kelly mentioned that he had a lengthy meeting with his players to discuss the recent spike in positive cases and the possibility that the virus could jeopardize the program’s first bowl game since 2017.
“I would say all of us heading into bowling season are a little nervous right now because it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Kelly said.
He doesn’t need to point to the record number of positive cases in the NFL this week, but rather the impact it had on UCLA’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, which had to cancel this week’s games.
The Bruins have not deviated much from the safety protocols and procedures they have implemented in the 2020 season. They continue to keep players six feet apart during indoor meetings and continue to host some of their larger outdoor team meetings.
“We are well aware of everything that is going on, but we remain true to our protocol and nothing has changed since the beginning of August,” defender Martell Irby said. “We’re just trying to stay awake, to keep being aware of what we are doing when we leave these objects so that we can play this game.”
The Bruins were one of two Pac-12 teams that didn’t completely lose the game on a pandemic-cut schedule in 2020, but had to adapt quickly to stage a Sunday morning game against Cal after Utah failed to field enough players. to meet with the Bruins that week.
It is unlikely that such a situation could arise during bowl season after the NCAA created an additional bowl game to ensure that every eligible team can play in the postseason. Every FBS team that failed the competition left and focused on preparing for the 2022 season.
“We have all crossed our fingers and are going to do our best to avoid this, but when you look at this option, it seems like it is spreading much faster and faster,” said Kelly. “We just have to be aware of this and do our best to prevent it.”
In July, Kelly told reporters that the list was 98% vaccinated. The UCLA system requires all students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus for the fall semester. The 2 percent of UCLA list members who were left unvaccinated for medical or religious reasons were forced to apply to refuse vaccination.