Anna Bauer ’23
It is a new year, but Covid-19 is still ever prevalent and affecting life on both Trinity’s campus and the campuses of other schools that are part of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Given that the spring season was cancelled last year when the pandemic first hit, the NESCAC is doing everything they can to allow for a spring season in 2021. However, safety is the number one priority and there are many factors that need to be met in order for a safe spring season to occur.
As of Jan. 27, the NESCAC had released an update from the Presidents of the League on the status of a spring season. According to the website, at this point in time, the league was concerned by the steady increase of Covid-19 cases across New England, relaying that “although COVID case numbers have started to decline, nationally and in our region, the numbers remain far higher than they were at the start of the fall semester.” Because of this, the NESCAC presidents had agreed that conditions would “need to improve significantly in order to conduct conference competition this spring.”
Just like in the fall, and according to the NESCAC website, all of the institutions within the NESCAC league have collectively decided to adhere to similar rules, including a devotion to “limit travel off campus, restrict visitors, maintain strict protocols on physical distancing, and implement a robust Covid-19 testing program.”
Meanwhile, the NESCAC will be constantly monitoring the progress of both the current pandemic and the SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as any changes in local, state, or federal guidelines regarding public health and athletic competition.
If conference competition is able to occur, it will likely not start until late March or early April given the various times students arrive back on campus. Games would also be limited in both duration and number of students/institutions present.
At the moment, each NESCAC institutions has prioritzed trying to do what is both best and safest for their athletes. Although many practices have commenced, the promise of competition within the NESCAC league still seems partially dependent upon the decision of the Presidents of the NESCAC league. Individual schools within the league also have a say in how they respond to this aforementioned decision.
Since institutions are located in various states, competition and traveling is very dependent on state guidelines. Each college is adhering to the guidelines that prohibit overnight stays in order to lessen potential exposure to the virus and varients. NESCAC schools have also discussed the possibility of only competing within their state to, again, lessen travel and thereby potential exposure.
As of right now, Trinity and all other NESCAC institutions are awaiting the NESCAC’s, decision which was supposed to be released either in late February or early March. If the NESCAC league chooses to not go forward with competition, schools will still have the option to independently compete against one another. According to Director of Athletics Drew Galbraith, “any decision from the NESCAC Presidents would relate to the conference season and championship.” He added that “some other institutions in the conference are already competing, and my sense is that Presidents will respect the autonomy of each other’s instiutions.”
Thus, some schools within the conference may choose to compete while others do not, but all of the institutions within the league will respect the others’ decisions in what is best for their students.
The Presidents of the NESCAC conference were sure to relay their concern for student athletes across New England, and recognized “how important athletic competition is to many of our students and to our communities, and we understand the dismay many will feel at the possiblity that spring conference competition might be canceled two years in a row.”
In the meantime, team practices and lifts will resume on Monday, Mar. 1. These activities will continue as normal, so long as Trinity remains at the green alert level.