An Athlete’s Perspective: Spring Uncertainty and the NE10
Grace Kiernan, Staff Writer
In July, an announcement was made by the NE10 for the upcoming athletic season, after students had been abruptly sent home mid-semester in March due to the unprecedented situation of the Coronavirus outbreak. “The Council of Presidents of the Northeast-10 Conference voted unanimously on Thursday, July 16th, to suspend all NE10-sponsored competition and championships through December 31st in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” As we are now approaching the this deadline, and closing the fall semester, our student-athletes are once again anxiously awaiting our spring semester decision.
The uncertainty of the 2020-2021 seasons bring up not only questions of whether there will be a season, but also of what athletes are to do if there is in fact, no season. What would the consequences of not having a season be for these student-athletes? No fall season took place for the NE10 division, but will it take place in the spring?
When speaking to different student-athletes across our campus, there has been an underlying tone of frustration and angst.
Shannon Quinlann, a senior field hockey player, speaks about her journey through this challenging time, navigating the unknown as a team captain. She explained, “the hardest part about not knowing what is going to happen in the future is finding motivation in the present. I think it can be easy for teams or players to fall into the fixed mindset of waiting to work out or practice, especially on your own, if there’s no guaranteed season to be working towards.”
Julia Chappell, a senior women’s tennis captain, explained another aspect regarding challenges faced throughout this time. “I definitely feel less connected, especially with the freshmen and underclassmen. Because we are unable to see each other and do not have any scheduled practices or lifts, I haven’t gotten to bond with them or show them the ropes, which I feel bad about.”
Based on the responses regarding the upcoming season, Chappell was asked if she “wishes the NE10 would have just made a permanent decision back in the fall, so her team could focus on training for the upcoming year rather than leaving everything up in the air.” Chappell responded in a very confident tone, “Absolutely. The uncertainty causes a lot of stress and anxiety on the athletes.”
A senior linebacker on the football team, Cullen McCarty, agreed with Chappell by saying that he, “absolutely wishes the decision was made back in the fall.” He followed up by saying, “It is tough because we have never experienced football like this. We can’t even practice as a full team. Yet, other teams across Massachusetts and the country being able to s frustrating. I miss seeing the guys every day in meetings, practice, school, and cracking jokes in the locker room. I do feel less connected to some of my teammates that I’m not close with, especially the freshmen, because I don’t know most of them.”
Without knowing if teams will have a season, it makes it hard for our athletes to make decisions about their future, especially for our senior athletes. Many of our graduating seniors have to decide about their future in the upcoming months. The delayed announcement of these forthcoming seasons does not put our student athletes at ease.
Quinlann explained that, “for the 20-21 school year, the NE10 has been clear about what happens to athletic scholarships. According to the NE10, ‘institutions are committed to honoring athletic aid agreements that have been issued to student-athletes for 2020-2021.’ The unknown athletic aid information applies to students who are deciding to use their extra season of eligibility as a 5th year.”
Just because the student-athletes have some information on the matter, does not mean it is easier for them to make these decisions, especially when there is no decision on the upcoming spring. Our senior athletes have to make decisions about potentially taking a 5th year or is there is a chance that their athletic career is over depending on the decision made by the NE10.
There is no way to predict the future, especially during such uncertain times. But if one thing is certain, our athletes are eager to play, and they are anxiously awaiting a decision regarding the upcoming spring athletic season.