CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- Great news, Saluki fans. Fifty SIU student-athletes went into the Gate 1 return to play protocol. The athletes got tested for COVID-19, and all fifty are healthy.
They began voluntary workouts Monday, so that means 77 more student-athletes will go into protocol as we begin Gate 2.
Now I wish I had great news for SEMO football. Unfortunately their season opener, their home opener, September 3 against Dayton has been canceled. The Dayton Flyers feel they don’t have enough time to get ready due to COVID-19.
“A huge disappointment of course,” said SEMO Head Football Coach Tom Matukewicz said. “Disappointed for our players and these things. Just a reminder, it’s kind of like the game of football. There’s a lot of things you can’t control, especially now. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and so we can’t focus on trying to control it. We just need to focus on the one thing we can control, and that is how we respond. Of course, we are trying to find another game so we are in the process of that, and we are going to move forward, and ultimately I think we’ll find a game, then if not, we’ll just have to adapt and adjust just like the game of football. No one cares. At the end of the day we just have to respond, make it a positive.”
What does Matukewicz tell the kids?
“I think my message is, this is serious, and the game of football always asks you to sacrifice and have to understand, to go through all the precautions we’re talking about, we go out and have this rash of tests, positive tests on our team, there there won’t be an Ole Miss either. And there may not be a season, and so when your buddies are going out to the bars, you can’t. You have to protect yourself from outside and not be able to go on trips and all these types of things because, ultimately, if you get a chance to expose us all, then we may not have a season. So I use this as a good reminder about the responsibilities that we have, and the precautions are not jokes. We need to take it serious to make sure that one, you’re safe and we are safe and two, we have a great chance to playing football this fall.”
The Redhawks have a plan in place to get their athletes back on campus, and it starts next week.
“So our kids have not been here, they get back Sunday, July 5th and they are quarantining even as we speak. We talked about what they are going to do this weekend and all that, and once they get here July 5th, we test everybody on Monday, and that’s really expensive and hard to do. In fact, we are the only OVC team that are spending the resources to do that and that’s how important it is, and they are in the quarantine through the week. Once we get the results back and once we feel safe, then we will start with the lifting and the running that every other college is doing. Plus, we are unveiling our rings so they are getting their championship ring this Sunday, so I’m pretty excited about that.”
And speaking of bling, Coach Tuke’s necklace is an attention grabber and there’s a story behind it.
“Our motto, our plan, is brick by brick. Our program is a process-oriented program, and kids are hard to reach, man. You’ve got to be wild and come in, almost got to shock and awe, to get your point across, and they know anything I’ll put a chain on and wear it around. It’s like an elaborate sign. If I put a sign on a wall that says brick by brick it doesn’t mean as much as if I walk in the room with this. I actually put this and a turnover chain I had and made them call me 2-Chain for a while. They thought that was pretty funny.”