Swine Flu Hits UD Baseball, Lax Still Here to Play
April 30th, 2009 by WY Daily Staff
NEWARK, DELAWARE — The swine flu outbreak’s effect at the University of Delaware has extended to athletics, as a baseball player’s illness caused UD to cancel this weekend’s three-game series at North Carolina-Wilmington, athletic director Edgar Johnson said Wednesday night.
The Blue Hens were scheduled to board a bus early this afternoon for the trip. The player’s name was not released.
“It’s a health issue. Baseball, at that point, becomes irrelevant,” coach Jim Sherman said.
Delaware’s three-game softball series at Hofstra is still on, as is Saturday’s Delaware Open track meet.
“All decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis,” Johnson said, adding that UD officials are frequently evaluating and adjusting to the situation.
UD women’s lacrosse players were on the lookout for swine flu symptoms as they boarded their bus Wednesday morning for William & Mary and the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
Should any problems arise, it would be a short trip.
“We don’t have anyone affected. We’re all fine,” said Coach Kim Ciarrocca, whose team plays Old Dominion in Williamsburg, Va., tonight in a semifinal game.
“We’ve touched base with everyone down there and we’ve assured them that, if one person gets sick, we’ll turn the bus around.”
The swine flu occurrence, with four reported cases at UD Tuesday and at least six more Wednesday, was “pretty much all anyone’s talking about” on campus Wednesday, said Tracy Powell, a sophomore distance runner on the Blue Hens’ track team.
“What makes it scary,” she added, “is you hear people can die from it.”
Carpenter Sports Building, the recreational sports hub that is site of UD’s indoor swimming pool, fitness centers and basketball courts, was turned into the Division of Public Health’s emergency health clinic staffed by more than 100.
But at the Delaware Field House, where Powell and teammates were training on the indoor track, it was business as usual.
“I’m not too worried,” said distance runner Kevin Kemmerle. “I usually get sick once or twice a year and I already got sick three times this year so I probably won’t get sick again.
“But you read about the swine flu in the paper … you definitely don’t want to get that.”
UD men’s track and field coach Jim Fischer said athletes, while in peak physical condition, must be particularly careful to prevent illness.
“Our kids, just from sheer exertion, get sick from dehydration and everything else,” Fischer said. “We talk all the time about washing with soap and water and the importance of sleep and hydration, especially now toward the end of the season.
“It’s a bad time of the year for us to have the epidemic around our kids — not that there’s a good time — because they’re susceptible anyway, then you add in the stress of all their academics.”
At Wesley College in Dover, the school year ends today. Sports are completed except for the baseball and men’s lacrosse teams waiting to hear Monday if they’ll receive ECAC postseason bids.
“Knock on wood, we’ve been fortunate here that all our conference tournaments were completed before the swine flu outbreak,” said athletic director Mike Drass. “With the athletes who’ll still be here, we’ll work with our sports medicine staff and nurses on campus to take every precaution.”
Delaware State University had no reported cases and the athletic schedule had not been altered in any way, said assistant director of media relations Dennis Jones.
But students and staff had received all the appropriate health alerts.
Kemmerle pointed out that illnesses often do travel quickly among teammates, especially those who live together.
Athletes train and compete in frequent contact and in close quarters.
That proximity includes in locker, weight and training rooms and even buses.
“Everyone’s fine. Nobody’s freaking out,” said Erin Zimmerman, a senior on the women’s lacrosse team. “The trainers are always asking how we’re feeling and we’re making sure we’re washing hands and not sharing drinks.”
She added that none of the players, at that time, knew anyone who had contracted the illness. But there was reasonable cause for concern.
“It is worrisome, because it seems to be spreading worldwide,” Ciarrocca said.