HUNTINGTON — As Marshall football moved into its mandatory summer access period last week, the one resonating value preached throughout the program by coaches and staff has been teamwork.
Due to COVID-19, teamwork has taken on a greater meaning in 2020 because of the demands on and off the field for player safety.
On Monday, Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said the football program showed its biggest team effort to date when the team’s COVID-19 testing results came back with zero positive results out of 104 tests administered.
“We’re very pleased with these results,” Hamrick said. “Our plan is working. I told every football player that, if we’re going to play football this year, it depends on how you deal with this. We’ve still got a long way to go, but to date, our kids have dealt with it very well.”
This was the second round of testing for all of those surrounding Marshall’s program and, for some players, their third test.
After Marshall had three players and a staff member test positive in the first round of testing, Hamrick said Monday’s announcement of zero positive cases shows that the plan implemented by Marshall’s medical staff, led by Dr. John Jasko, is working to put the Herd on track to open the season on Aug. 29.
“We have great medical care, led by Dr. John Jasko,” Hamrick said. “Marshall Health and our medical school have been our partners from Day One. We can’t let our guard down. We have to continue doing what we are doing.”
Monday’s announcement was critical because it comes just days before Marshall moves into the next phase of the summer access period, which moves from eight hours per week to 20 hours per week and incorporates walkthroughs with a football and more meetings with coaches.
That second phase of the summer access period is scheduled to begin Friday, which is two weeks before the first allowable day of preseason camp, set to begin on July 31.
For Marshall, a multitude of positive tests would have put that transition into the next phase and possibly the start of the 2020 season on Aug. 29 at East Carolina in jeopardy.
While Marshall cannot control what is happening outside of the program, Hamrick said that at least his group is taking care of what it needs to so it can prepare for its scheduled season opener against the Pirates in Greenville, North Carolina.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Hamrick said. “It’s so critical that we didn’t have to shut it down because we do play early — the 29th of August — and we’re a week ahead of August. There are a lot of people looking at what we are doing. We are setting a good example.”
Hamrick said part of Marshall’s attack against COVID-19 has been aggressive with players having their temperature taken while filling out informative questionnaires on their phone app before being allowed entry into the facilities.
In further measures, Hamrick has called on his players to stay out of bars, parties and other crowded places that would put them at risk.
“We’ve got to continue to stick to our plan and continue to have those associated with our football program to buy in to what we are doing,” Hamrick said.