Small school hits the road to stay on the court

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:30 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - COVID-19 has made a mess of the Big Ten basketball season -- Michigan State and Michigan both had long pauses because of it. Now imagine what it’s like at a program with only a fraction of the resources Big Ten teams have. But a small school here in mid-Michigan hit the road to stay on the court.

Traveling out of state for three months straight without a home game is mentally tough on any athlete. Add in handling school and trying to stay healthy on top of it, and you have a sense of the challenge Great Lakes Christian College men’s basketball has undertaken.

GLCC senior Isiah Reed said, “It was different first semester because games got cancelled and we just had to figure out what we were going to do as a team.”

In a pandemic, teams have to adjust, and that’s exactly what Great Lakes Christian College men’s basketball has done. They created a bubble and players are only allowed in the gym and in their dorms.

“I think it’s better for us because we’re all together in one class, we’re all basically in one class together,” Reed said. “It’s helpful to learn off each other and actually getting to know each other more as the year went on.”

Coaches have to bring food to them and they travel to games in vans. Doing this and going on the road is the only way they could have a season.

GLCC senior Trent Temple said, “We spent more time in the vans it seems like than in the dorms. It kind of takes a toll on us but it’s worth it at the end of the day.”

COVID-19 testing isn’t cheap, and for this small school, it couldn’t fulfill a weekly testing program. Head coach Richard Westerlund weighed in on the expense.

“Testing six times a week was impossible for our budget,” Westerlund said. “We looked at it, and it was going to be about 12,000 dollars a week just for us to test our athletes. If we wanted to play, we were going to have to go be some road warriors.”

And that’s what they did. It was a struggle, only going 2-11 until Jan. 14, but they found a way to fight through, win 11 of their last 13 games, and get coach Westerlund his 100th career win.

“I think our guys really embraced it and they handled it well and they embraced those challenges that came with it,” Westerlund said.

The crusaders will have senior night this weekend. Then, they’re on the road once again next weekend to head the “National Christian College Athletic Association” conference championships.

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