By Robert Cattanach
In the middle of the 2020 spring semester, all athletics were placed on hold due to the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic. Less than a year later, on Thursday, Feb. 15, the Northeast-10 conference announced the resumption of NE-10 competitions this spring being kicked off by the Women’s tennis match as it had been the longest the school has gone without an athletic event since World War II. Nearly 25 percent of St. Michael’s students play sports at the varsity level, while another 40 percent take part in club sports or other programs, according to Christopher Kenny, Director of Athletics at Saint Michael’s College.
The physical health of athletes is also taken into consideration. The athletic training facility has undergone a variety of changes to ensure that athletes get the best care possible, while still adhering COVID regulations. The former “social hub” has a reduced capacity, and began requiring appointments. Alternate locations are also provided to prevent overcrowding. This whole process has been very challenging but the Athletic department has done what they could to ensure a safe return to play for all students Kenny said.
The confirmation of a spring season provides a change in pace for both student athletes and coaches. Coaches have been working extremely hard to adhere to the COVID regulations while ensuring effective practices for the athletes, which includes distanced and sanitized locations for gear and equipment and limited person-to-person contact.
Overall, students are eager to start playing this spring. Mary Kohn ‘24, of the Saint Michael’s College Women’s Lacrosse team, is “…super excited to get the stick back in the hand,” she said.
Like all teams on campus, Women’s Lacrosse was subject to a series of phases, each of which permitted different levels of contact. Currently in phase 3, “the team is allowed to all practice together with contact in order to prepare for the upcoming season which begins on March 20 at Southern New Hampshire University,” Kohn said.
Students are not allowed to attend home games, but live streamed videos will be available for people to watch.
Women’s Lacrosse is not the only team moving through the phases. After talking with Saint Michael’s College Men’s Rugby Head Coach Kevin O’Brien it became very clear that no matter the level of contact if the right measures are put into place, return to play can be achieved. Although the team is not affiliated with the NE-10 or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) the team still follows all protocol, regulations, guidelines and standards of the organizations. Through social distancing and proper sanitation, the team moves through different phases of play, each of which permit different levels of contact. As of Saturday, March 13, the team has entered phase three, which allows them to “…work on unit skills as well as technique with very limited contact,” O’Brien said.
Although much is uncertain for future games, the coaching staff and players are hopeful for at least one game this semester against the University of Vermont’s Men’s Rugby team. This game would act as a memorial to UVM’s former head coach, Declan Connoly, who passed away last year.
According to O’Brien, the team is hopeful for the upcoming semester while adapting to a new normal.
After a year without sports, athletes are eager to start playing again after a year in quarantine. It has been a very troublesome time not knowing the fate of their sport, when for many it is the reason they came to Saint Michaels.