UC Davis launches women’s basketball season while facing pandemic-related challenges

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL)After months of hard work by University of California, Davis, its women’s basketball team was the first team on campus to test out the waters of playing during a pandemic.

After eight months of preparation, and under unusual circumstances, the 2020-21 college basketball season began Wednesday.

“It’s something we thought maybe it could happen, but I felt like until today, I still didn’t know it was going to happen,” Maggie Fenton told FOX40.

Fenton is the associate athletics director for facilities, operations and capital projects at UC Davis. She said her department spent the past few months trying to figure out how to play games safely. 

“It’s been challenging, but it’s been rewarding to be able to kind of understand all the policies,” Fenton said.  

The UC Davis women’s basketball team played against the University of San Francisco’s team like it was a regular game, even though things weren’t regular on the sidelines.

The team on the bench sat socially distant with masks on. The game staff were also masked up. And real fans were replaced by cardboard cutouts.

“When I walked in the building, it was like I was waiting for someone to pinch me,” Davis Enterprise reporter Owen Yancher told FOX40.

Yancher has covered the team for the past few seasons. He said the Davis community has been missing sports and have waited for Wednesday’s game for a very long time. 

“This women’s team is seeking out a fifth conference championship. There is a lot of hype surrounding this team,” Yancher explained. 

The players said they are grateful to have the chance to play, with or without fans. 

“We felt like there was going to be no fans, it’s weird. But it did not take that long. Once the ball went up for the tip it was just, you go,” said UC Davis sophomore Evanne Turner.

“It didn’t feel as empty as I thought it would be. I think both teams were doing their best to make a lot of noise,” said UC Davis redshirted junior Sage Stobbart.

University officials said the team is being tested for COVID-19 three times a week.

University officials said they hope to use some of the lessons they learn from putting on a basketball game with other sports around campus.

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