Despite coronavirus concerns, UW-La Crosse allowing athletic teams to travel out of state

UWL student-athletes and coaches were originally forbidden to travel to national tournaments

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Despite concerns of the growing coronavirus, UW-La Crosse student-athletes have the green light to travel out of state.

At one point, the university suspended all out-of-state travel for students and staff, including those competing in national tournaments, but that has since been lifted.

However, the original news did not come without a big scare for the players.

“I got a call from my teammate that said that Coach Davis said that everyone going to nationals needs to meet in the locker room ASAP, and make sure everyone gets this message,” freshman track & field athlete Emma Lawrence said.

The message was that the university is cancelling all out-of-state travel related to campus activities.

“Our trip to nationals qualified under that category,” Lawrence said. “So, basically we can’t leave this morning. We’re supposed to be on a bus right now…The national track meets this Friday and Saturday, the women’s team is predicted to win. The guys are also ranked very high.”

Their dreams were crushed.

“I felt for our coaches in that moment more so than I did for myself,” Lawrence said. “For them to push us every day and watch us get better and have this dream of bringing home a national championship. And then, three days before we’re supposed to leave, for it to be taken away?”

Players from the gymnastics team were also supposed to be heading to nationals.

“For us to qualify, it meant a lot this year,” junior gymnast Alexis Sands said. “We’re doing it for a lot more than ourselves.”

Many student-athletes gathered at the Graff Center to talk about their other options, including travelling on their own and even the idea to self-quarantine.

But the emotional roller coaster took another turn this afternoon when the university reversed course, and decided to let student-athletes travel on their own to out-of-state competitions.

Even though players are free to compete in nationals now, they were not going to give up the chance to bring home a trophy.

“If we can find a way to get ourselves there, we’re gonna get there,” Lawrence said. “But we don’t know what the consequences will be.”

The decision allowing UWL players to travel to nationals was made by the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Once UWL heard of the WIAC’s policy that permits student-athletes to travel, the university changed its mind.

Each individual player can now decide whether or not they wish to go.

UWL Chancellor Joe Gow says he recommends people don’t travel on their own out of state.