President Biddy Martin and other NESCAC presidents have reached an agreement on a limited schedule of conference competition for spring sports, the NESCAC announced in a statement on March 9. Each college in the conference will determine whether to participate, and for each sport, a minimum of six teams across the NESCAC must agree to play for their season to be held. Amherst Athletics is “working on permitting spring athletics competition for an abbreviated season,” with increased testing and safety measures, according to an email from Martin to the community.
NESCAC spring sports include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, lacrosse, rowing, tennis and outdoor track and field.
Martin noted an increased amount of testing for student-athletes who choose to participate. “Student-athletes and coaches will go straight from their residences or, in the case of coaches, their offices, to a testing site near the buses, where they will be tested and then taken to the location where they will compete, and return to campus the same day without stops,” wrote Martin in her email. “Competition will be played on weekends. All NESCAC colleges use the Broad for their test processing and have testing regimens and other protocols similar to ours.”
If the six-team minimum is met, those sports will have a shortened, regional schedule from mid-April to mid-May, according to the NESCAC statement.
The news comes as a pleasant surprise to many Amherst student athletes. “Obviously the news about a modified season is extremely exciting for all of us. We have a great group of guys this year that have been working hard, with hopes of a potential season, and it looks like we’re finally getting our chance. After last year’s shortened season, we’re all looking forward to getting back on the field soon,” pitcher Sachin Nambiar ’22 of the baseball team said.
Ally Deegan ’24, a two-sport athlete on soccer and track and field, echoed these sentiments. “I was very pleasantly surprised to hear the news of spring sports competition. The team has been training individually for a lot of the past year, so it will definitely be great to finally come together and compete,” Deegan said. “Playing sports is obviously an important part of a student athlete’s life at Amherst, so it is exciting to be able to continue pursuing those sports competitively in the midst of the pandemic.”
However, the decision doesn’t mean that all Amherst teams will get their long-awaited seasons. The women’s lacrosse team, for instance, only has six members on campus, not nearly enough to field a team.
All teams that do compete will be missing key members, as many athletes are studying remotely. Nevertheless, the decision represents a grand opportunity for on-campus student-athletes, not only allowing them to compete, but to do so safely.