For the first time since 2019, fall sports teams will have relatively normal seasons after COVID-19 impacted their 2020 season. The NCAC suspended all intercollegiate competition last fall, affecting men and women’s soccer, football, cross country, volleyball, field hockey, and men and women’s golf. While they were able to practice and condition, no games were played until spring of this year.
This fall, teams are able to resume playing and practicing like they did pre-pandemic, while still adhering to COVID-19 safety measures. Athletes will follow guidelines established by the NCAA, NCAC, and DePauw athletics.
The guidelines include mask requirements for teams during travel and other indoor athletic activities. For vaccinated players, testing is only required when symptomatic or if a close contact tests positive. Unvaccinated players will be tested weekly.
While there are more relaxed COVID-19 regulations, many players remain cautious. Sophie Metzger, a senior member of the field hockey team, said, “As a team we try and not put ourselves in situations that are unintelligent or risky.” She added that because they know what it is like to lose their season, they are doing what they can to ensure that it does not happen again.
According to senior soccer player Maya Caldwell, the adjustment back to normalcy has gone smoothly. “We kept asking, ‘is this real?’” Caldwell said. “Then after the first couple of practices, it started to feel really good.”
This past spring, fall sports were able to compete, but with several restrictions such as fewer games, less travel, sharing facilities with the spring sports teams, limited fans and other COVID-19 safety measures outlined by the NCAA, NCAC and DePauw athletics.
Caldwell said that in addition to these limitations, team bonding was more difficult as in-person gatherings outside of practice were limited. “It’s nice to see teammates in class and throughout campus now, but the one thing I missed the most was the locker room,” Caldwell said. “We can have way more interaction with each other now.”
Senior volleyball player Grace Filbrun said the challenges they faced and things they lost during their unusual season caused their team to grow closer. “I think we are stronger because of this,” Filbrun said. “I am looking forward to continuing to grow the relationships with the upperclassmen but also get to know all the freshmen.”
Sarah Goff, a senior field hockey player, is most looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NCAC and NCAA tournaments, as well as have fans at the games again. “I’m looking forward to just really finishing strong,” Goff said. “Despite what we’ve lost, I am thankful to be able to play for my senior year.”
Check out fall sports teams’ game schedules here.