On March 9, President Biddy Martin announced that colleges across the NESCAC have agreed to a limited spring sports schedule. Since many spring student-athletes were not expecting to play competitively this semester, this news came as quite a surprise. To gauge general attitudes towards the decision, The Student spoke with a number of student-athletes. While no two athletes echoed identical sentiments, one theme was common: shock.
- Anna Madden ’22 (Women’s Track and Field): “I was honestly shocked to hear the news of having a spring season (as were many others). Even my coach had no clue that it was even a possibility, and I thought he was joking when he told us the news at practice. We still don’t know too much about what our season and meets will look like, but it’ll definitely be a lot different. We hope to run in a few meets during the last four weeks of our semester against some other NESCAC schools. I’m sure meets will feel a lot different, but it’ll definitely be nice to finally get on the track again!”
- Jackie Bukzin ’22 (Women’s Tennis): “I am so excited and grateful to have a season. I didn’t think this was even possible coming into the semester in order to maintain the bubble and everyone’s safety on campus, so it is a bit shocking as well. We have just enough players on the women’s tennis team to make it happen so I’m super pumped to get back out into NESCAC competition and represent Amherst.”
- Henry Buren ’22 (Men’s Track and Field): “I was shocked when the announcement was made. I didn’t think that neither NESCAC nor the school would allow us to compete. I came back this semester with the mindset that I was not going to be competing. And I don’t think I’m alone in that reaction because a lot of my teammates were also not expecting to compete this season. As for concerns, I am cautiously optimistic. I can very easily see our season being shut down due to a couple of athletes contracting Covid, which is appropriate. I want to see more on how Amherst and NESCAC are going to proceed in order to make competition safe, but I am sure my worries in that area will be answered once competition time is closer. We still have a lot of time before all this is going down. Finally, I am very happy for the seniors who are able to compete one last time.”
- Paul Richardson ’24 (Men’s Lacrosse): “As a student-athlete, I am excited that spring athletes will be able to compete in their respective sports. As of right now, the men’s lacrosse team will not have a season. I have little to no concerns about the decision because I believe that Amherst has done a great job preventing the spread of Covid, and I believe that will continue even with sports resuming.”
- Caitlin Hoffman ’24 (Women’s Lacrosse): “Right now it’s a confusing time for the team. If Amherst lets off-campus [players] onto campus then we will be able to play, but it’s looking like that won’t happen any time soon. If that doesn’t happen, it’s very unlikely that we will have a season because we don’t field a team with the five girls on campus. It’s definitely upsetting that it doesn’t look like we can play, especially since other colleges are playing full seasons like normal. I know our coaches and AD’s are working to see if they can make some sort of competition, so we are all trying to stay hopeful that we will be able to compete in some way this spring! I know that hearing the news that we probably won’t have a season was upsetting for everyone on the team, especially the seniors.”
- Kevin Ma ’21 (Men’s Tennis): “I believe I reflect the general sentiment of student-athletes on campus that we look forward to the opportunity to have a season for spring sports. Being able to safely and responsibly compete for Amherst is something that I did not anticipate would be possible when I arrived on campus around a month ago. While I personally think that the college will be able to handle Covid-related safety issues, I have concerns over the fairness of allowing student-athletes to ‘break the bubble’ to play a sport while other students can’t leave campus for a haircut. Overall, I welcome the opportunity to have a season my senior year and recognize that having a season is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.”
- Tyler Marshall ’21 (Men’s Baseball): “I was really excited when Coach Pyne told us that we would get the opportunity to play this year. It was great to hear that me and the other seniors on campus would be able to compete for Amherst for one more year. It was disappointing to hear that the seniors who aren’t on campus won’t be able to play, so we definitely feel bad for them. We are going to do all we can to represent Amherst in the best possible way this spring.”
- Ryan Wagner ’21 (Men’s Golf): “We have yet to receive concrete details about events, but Coach [Davis] gave us a general idea. Three events: Williams Invitational, “Little Three’s” and the NESCAC Championship. [I] would say that my reaction was being surprised, and I am primarily concerned that I may be a bit rusty considering the fact that I have not played much golf this past year.”
- Sadie Pool ’24 (Women’s Softball): “At first I was super excited and I think it’s safe to say that the whole team was stoked! It’s been over a year since any of us have played a game, so we are thrilled to even have the opportunity to play! Once the initial excitement passed, I truly realized what a blessing this is! I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be at a school like Amherst, where we have so many resources to be able to participate in this season safely! I think that the NESCAC put a lot of thought into this decision so that we can all be as safe as possible, and I am looking forward to getting back on the field!”
According to these student accounts, this spring season will be unlike any other sports season the college has ever had, and a number of health protocols in place to ensure the safety of the players. The season will be abbreviated for some teams, like women’s track, who will only compete during the last four weeks of the academic year. Other teams will likely remain with no season at all such as men’s and women’s lacrosse.
Still, student-athletes are evidently feeling very fortunate to be able to compete. Amid all of the excitement, there are a few concerns raised by the student-athletes. Some feel that athletes being able to “break the bubble” is unfair for the non-athletes who cannot leave campus for even miniscule needs. Additionally, there are still plenty of Covid-related safety concerns among athletes, not wanting themselves, their teammates or their coaches sick.
While uncertainty about the coming months remains for many athletes, every day brings more clarity. Each team has a distinct roadmap forward and most expect to salvage the spring semester in the best — and safest — way that they can.