Opinion: Testing COVID-19 positive as a student-athlete and journalist

As I was laying out my outfit the night before the Boise State football game on Nov.14, I received an unexpected phone call. I had tested positive for COVID-19.

Like so many others who have experienced similar situations, I was confused and devastated. This was the first home football game I would ever be missing while attending Boise State. 

Since my freshman year, I have been cheering on the sideline as a Mane Line dancer for every game on The Blue. It is the most remarkable feeling being down on the field in front of thousands of people. My favorite part about game day is when Boise State scores a touchdown because our entire team goes crazy on the sideline, jumping up and down, and hugging each other. 

Walking into my junior year, I knew that a lot of things were going to look different. From only being allowed to practice in small groups to the Mountain West canceling fall sports all together, there was a point where I had to look at the situation and really take things day-by-day. My coach Kelsey Messer encouraged our team to remain optimistic despite our current situation. 

[Photo of Lexi Almeido with other Spirit Squad members at a men’s basketball game in Jaunary 2020]
Photo by Chandler Thornton | The Arbiter

Our team continued practicing and working towards a potential football season. When the Mountain West announced the return of football on Sept. 24, we were ecstatic. We continued to practice and prepare for whatever came our way. Unfortunately, we were unable to cheer at the games this season. 

In September, I received the position of Sports and Recreation Reporter for The Arbiter. As a journalism major, I was thrilled at the opportunity to report and write about Boise State Athletics. Part of my job is to attend home football games, so instead of being on the sideline with poms, I would be sitting in the Stueckle Sky Center with a press pass. 

Due to the Spirit Squad being unable to cheer, my involvement with The Arbiter gave me an opportunity to attend games in person. The first two games sitting in the press box were incredible. I was able to watch the game live, sit in on the post-game press conferences and write articles pertaining to the game. 

As an aspiring sports reporter, it was everything I could’ve imagined. 

Due to COVID-19 and a limitation of in-person attendance in Albertsons Stadium, everyone has to receive a negative COVID-19 test before entering the stadium. Members of the media typically get tested 24-48 hours before kickoff. 

With my result being positive, I was unable to attend the game. I suddenly understood every student, student-athlete and fan that was going through the same thing this season.

Many students feel similarly about not being able to attend games in person. Junior business marketing and administration major and former Corral member Chandler Thorton has not missed a game since his freshman year at Boise State. 

“I think that myself along with many other students look forward to game days and the energy they brought,” Thornton said. “The thing I miss most from being at games is the energy on The Blue. There’s just something about Boise State’s culture that really loves its school colors.”

Watching on a TV from home doesn’t provide the same experience as feeling that electric energy inside Albertsons’ Stadium. For a lot of graduating seniors, their last time attending a Boise State football game was in 2019.

As disappointing as these events have been, I’ve learned that anything can take you by surprise in these unpredictable times. I am grateful for the incredible opportunities that both the Spirit Squad and The Arbiter have provided me thus far.

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