By Joe Arruda
After almost a year without intercollegiate sports competition on the Springfield College campus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, games will be returning for the spring season. The New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) President’s Council voted to approve the spring sports season on Monday morning, March 1.
Each school participating in the conference will have the right to choose whether they have a season or not for the following sports: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, track and field and tennis.
Men’s volleyball, which is not affiliated with a conference, has been exploring competition opportunities but has not yet confirmed any matches.
The NEWMAC statement read:
“The NEWMAC Presidents Council has outlined a path forward for Spring Sports. The Presidents continue to hold the safety and well-being of student-athletes and surrounding communities as its primary focus when making decisions around the impact of COVID-19 and the resumption of intercollegiate athletic competition. As part of this decision, the conference will require ongoing testing, universal masking and other modifications to game management standards as part of its health and safety protocols for student-athletes, coaches, officials and game personnel at institutions choosing to participate this spring. These additional precautions exceed the current NCAA guidance for spring sports.”
The President’s Council also voted in favor of competing in a conference-only schedule among its members who are willing and able to compete in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper expressed her continued focus on the ongoing pandemic in an email to the student body shortly after the NEWMAC announced its decision.
She said, “This announcement is a step toward resuming a more familiar environment, however, we do so cautiously and ever mindful of the need for continued vigilance in managing the pandemic. The safety of our campus community remains our top priority and I am confident in the plan approved by the NEWMAC Board of Directors to begin competition within specific guidelines.”
“I look forward to seeing our student-athletes and coaches compete in the sports they love, representing Springfield College so well,” she added.
Sports were suspended on Alden Street just weeks after spring competition commenced last year. Teams, like baseball and softball who did not record a loss in 2020, were off to a hot start and jolted by the notice that their season would be stopped in its tracks.
Student-athletes have been practicing in pods for the last several weeks in anticipation of this announcement from the Conference. Now, with a sense of hope for the return to “normal,” teams are invigorated and excited to compete.
On Saturday, March 20, the softball team will compete in a double header at home against WPI on its brand new, state-of-the-art turf field, and the women’s lacrosse team will play on Stagg Field while the baseball team competes in its double header on the road at WPI.