MOORHEAD — The Minnesota State Moorhead women's basketball team had its two home games against Minnesota-Duluth, scheduled for this Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, canceled due to "COVID-19 test protocols," according to an MSUM athletic department release.
Officials from both schools made the announcement Thursday, Jan. 21. MSUM had played all six of its previous games this season, which started later than usual in early January due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Dragons head women's coach Karla Nelson said her team had multiple positive tests for COVID-19 this week.
“For myself and probably a lot of other coaches, it doesn’t even really seem real. It’s crazy in that sense. The sooner we get beyond this (pandemic), it can’t come soon enough," Nelson said. “It’s frustrating for coaches and players, we should be playing Duluth (on Friday). The good thing is we got the results and didn’t expose Duluth so that was a positive.”
“Having been into the season almost a month, my biggest concern this whole time was traveling and hotels. You can control things a lot better at home of course and in facilities that are kind of doing the same thing you are, but once you get outside that small bubble, people have shown that they really don’t care.”
— Karla Nelson
Due to Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference scheduling guidelines, this weekend's games will not be rescheduled. NSIC teams were all slated to play 16 games this season over eight weekends. The Dragons women's team is coming off a two-game road trip to Bemidji State last weekend.
“Having been into the season almost a month, my biggest concern this whole time was traveling and hotels," Nelson said. "You can control things a lot better at home of course and in facilities that are kind of doing the same thing you are, but once you get outside that small bubble, people have shown that they really don’t care.”
The Dragons are 3-3 overall with a 2-2 record in the North Division after two losses at Bemidji State. Nelson said it was "inevitable" the pandemic would disrupt her team's season at some point.
“One thing coaches are is we’re control freaks," Nelson said. "We like to control what we did in practice, preseason, postseason, our summers. We’re very structured and now you’re going against something that you can't see. You have no idea. You are really at the mercy of this virus.
“You can do all of the things to protect yourself … but at some point you can’t social distance and you are around people who don’t respect the recommendations and you fall victim to some of that.”
MSUM athletic director Doug Peters said Dragons athletes who are in-season and competing and coaches are being tested three times per week.
"We are doing everything we can to minimize the risk," Peters said. "We are testing and being responsible."
Peters said the Dragons women's basketball team is in quarantine and the athletic department will evaluate the situation on a day-to-day basis. The Dragons haven't allowed fans into any home events since the winter season started in early January, and that will continue until at least the end of the month.
"I'm naturally optimistic and had hope we wouldn't get hit, but realistically knew at some points we would get hit with a positive test," Peters said.
The Minnesota-Duluth women's team already had three of its games canceled this season prior to Thursday's announcement. The Bulldogs are 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the North Division.
“It’s very frustrating because you actually want to play," Nelson said. “These kids, these athletes, they’re trying to do the best they can to follow all these rules and you put them in situations that they can’t get away from and this is what’s going to happen.”
The Dragons men's team is still scheduled to play two games on Friday and Saturday at Minnesota-Duluth.