Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NESCAC cancelled all spring sports in 2020. With almost no warning, student-athletes faced the sobering reality that 25 percent of their college athletic careers had disappeared. Almost one year later, Amherst spring athletes must grapple with the fact that Covid-19 may steal 50 percent of their NCAA seasons.
On Jan. 27, NESCAC presidents released an update on the state of the upcoming season. Upon reading the update, student athletes encountered more of the same feeling that they have been facing since the start of the summer: uncertainty.
The letter states that at the moment, the conditions are not suitable for NESCAC play. However, if conditions improve “significantly,” a modified season may take place.
“Each of our institutions will continue to do everything we can to provide meaningful opportunities for our students to engage in athletic activities on campus,” the letter reads. “If conference competition proves feasible, regular season conference play would likely not start until late March or early April, and would necessarily be limited in scope and duration.”
While the continued uncertainty is disappointing, many athletes have been under the impression that a full season was never in their future. Jack Trent ’23, a decathlete on the track and field team, had already decided to live with his sophomore teammates off campus. Upon reading the update, Trent emphasized that the news was unfortunate, but not surprising. “I feel like we knew this was coming. It definitely makes sense from a safety perspective, and because this helps the safety of our greater community, athletes can understand this,” he said.
Sachin Nambiar ’22, a pitcher on the baseball team, echoed similar thoughts. “I feel like the NESCAC is doing everything they can to keep people safe.” Nambiar said, “They’re doing their best to have sports but the health of the students and faculty is the most important thing right now.”
While the future of the season hangs in the air, teams will still be able to practice on campus. Once each player receives three negative Covid tests, they can exercise as a team in certain Covid-safe small group practices designed to be Covid-safe. As conditions improve, practices will slowly build up to full-team workouts.
“I want there to be a season. I don’t want two of my four seasons to be wiped away, but at the end of the day we have to do what is safest,” Nambiar reflected.