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Panel discusses COVID-19's impact on JMU athletics

JMU women's lacrosse head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, women's volleyball head coach Lauren Steinbrecher, and senior softball player Oddici Alexander were part of a panel Tuesday that discussed COVID-19's impact on JMU athletics.
JMU women's lacrosse head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, women's volleyball head coach Lauren Steinbrecher, and senior softball player Oddici Alexander were part of a panel Tuesday that discussed COVID-19's impact on JMU athletics.(WHSV)
Published: May. 26, 2020 at 9:44 PM EDT
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JMU women's lacrosse head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, women's volleyball head coach Lauren Steinbrecher, and senior softball player Oddici Alexander were part of a panel Tuesday that discussed COVID-19's impact on JMU athletics.

The panel, which also included associate athletics director for compliance/SWA Jennifer Phillips, spoke virtually to around 250 people on Zoom Tuesday through an event hosted by Women for Madison and the Duke Club.

The discussion featured talk of challenges coaches and athletes face in both fall and spring sports due to the global pandemic.

"Just trying to educate people that not every sport is going to be the same," said Klaes-Bawcombe. "Everyone is dealing with different problems and challenges right now and we have to be okay with not knowing everything, which is not normal."

Spring sports teams are dealing with changes to their roster after the 2020 season was shut down early. Following the cancellation of competition, the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring sports athletes. The decision is supported by spring coaches at JMU but also forces them to rethink roster construction for 2021 and beyond.

Meanwhile, fall sports programs are focused on preparing for the upcoming season. JMU is preparing for competition later this year but it's unclear how and when sporting events will take place.

"As a volleyball team and as an athletic program, we feel like we are all family and we feel like we are family with our fans," said Steinbrecher. "So to open those doors and show what our student-athletes are going through and how we are trying our best to try and be in a place to play in the fall and obviously next spring."

More definitive plans for the upcoming 2020 fall sports season will likely be made public in late June.

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