By Collin Atwood
Over the past year, everyone across the globe has been trying to cope with the idea of remodeling their meaning of a normal life.
It was never normal to be surprised when you saw someone without a mask or to feel the need to sanitize your hands every time you touched something. It’s not typical to have to remember to bring a mask in the store as if it were a wallet or set of keys.
As time goes on, people start to realize that forgetting the faces of friends and family has become pretty normal. The spread of the coronavirus has left a permanent mark on everyone in one way or another and nothing compares to the impact that the virus has had on people’s lives.
Normalcy at Springfield College can be identified in many ways. The college’s Humanics philosophy, relation to the YMCA and its outstanding health sciences programs are all notable ingredients that make up normal life on Alden Street.
The one thing missing from that list and a highly respected part of Springfield College is its athletics. There isn’t a better way to define normal at the College than its sports.
About one in every three students at Springfield is a member of one of the 26 Div. III teams that the school offers. Even students that aren’t a member of a sports team still have Springfield College sports in their life.
Many of the majors at Springfield use the sports teams to get experience for their future career. Sports journalism, athletic training and sports management are just a few examples of majors on campus that benefit from sports.
When sports were cancelled on March 12, 2020, the College lost a part of its identity and so did most of the students.
As the 2020 fall semester began, teams slowly started to get back into their practices in preparation for their spring seasons. Of course, though, things weren’t the way they used to be.
The only way to hold any sort of practice was to have teams split up into separate pods that would practice at different times. This was less than ideal for the players and coaches because it made it hard to build chemistry until full practices began.
“If a freshman wasn’t in a pod with a senior, you didn’t really get to know anyone in that pod,” said Kate Bowen, head coach of the softball team at Springfield College.
Being in pods also meant that teams had to figure out different ways to practice and get everyone involved. The men’s volleyball team usually practiced by scrimmaging each other, but for a while that wasn’t allowed.
“We train typically by playing the game and putting different variations on the game, but we couldn’t play the game, so we had to play small games and do drills,” said Charlie Sullivan, head coach of the men’s volleyball team.
Zoom was also used by most teams, but after a full day of classes behind a screen, teams were longing for the opportunity to see each other.
“Zoom got old quickly. I'd rather be in person and see them at practice,” Bowen said.
Getting to the point where teams could compete again wasn’t easy, but that wasn’t the hard part. Now that sports are underway again, it is up to the teams to make sure that their shortened seasons don’t vanish once again..
It takes multiple screenings and tests until Kevin Wood, Associate Director of Athletics at Springfield College, is able to send the “all clear” email to the opposing schools staff indicating that they are ready to play.
“It’s definitely quite the process from one week to the next,” Wood said.
Every single day is a challenge for these athletes. If just one person tests positive, then the whole team will miss that week's game and possibly the following week’s game if the spread is that severe.
Even when a student gets out of quarantine, he or she still has to get back into game shape.
“When the team would come out of quarantine, they have to do what’s called a return to play protocol. That’s a five-to-seven day window of sort of getting back into game ready shape,” Wood said.
Never before have players had to watch who they hang out with because they had a responsibility to the team to not get sick.