Northeast Conference Announces Plan For Spring Athletics


Ryan Jones

Graduates will be seated on the field while guests will be socially distanced in the stands.

Ryan Jones, Editor-in-Chief

Northeast Conference Commissioner Noreen Morris announced on Feb. 1 that spring and fall sports will be played in an abbreviated schedule this year. If all goes according to plan, there will be nine different sports being played on Central Connecticut’s campus this semester.

Central football has already opted out of the shortened season. Volleyball, swimming and diving, baseball, softball, lacrosse and both cross country and outdoor track teams will be in action this spring.

While having nine sports going on at the same time sounds a bit chaotic for athletic departments already dealing with the effects of the pandemic, the schedule is structured so that teams are not playing at the same time. Each sport is designated days of the week where they almost exclusively play on. For example, men’s soccer exclusively plays on Mondays while women’s soccer plays their games on Tuesdays and Fridays.

CCSU Interim Athletic Director Tom Pincince said that at most there will be two home games played on the same day at Central.

The testing days for athletes also revolves around their game schedules. Teams are separated into two groups who test with the rest of the student population on Mondays and Thursdays. Using men’s soccer as an example again, athletes from that team would get tested on Thursdays so that their tests results are closer in time to their Monday games.

Other than the standard PCR test, student athletes are also administered rapid-result COVID-19 tests the day before their games.

While Pincince is excited for more sports to return to CCSU’s campus, he acknowledges the fluidity of the situation making it so that anything could change with the drop of a hat.

“I think everything could change going forward,” Pincince said. “What we learned this year is that scheduling can change day to day.”

Pincince also mentioned that most of the spring sports like baseball and softball are already played at the subject of the weather. While a snow storm was the fear for athletic schedulers before, a positive COVID-19 result is the fear in today’s world.

During the fall semester, CCSU athletics had a bit of a trial run by having teams practice together after testing and quarantine periods. Pincince said that the experience gained then will help them with their plans for the spring.

“We learned the importance of maintaining distance at practice whenever possible, we learned the importance of masking whenever possible,” Pincince said. “We also learned that you can plan and do everything right and maybe a game gets cancelled anyway. We learned a lot in the fall about how to deal with this and handle it and that will help us this spring but I think we’re still learning a lot about all of this.”

While the hope is to have every game on the schedule played, the realistic expectation is to have games get postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks either at Central Connecticut or at opposing programs. Pincince said what is done after this will vary on the sport. For fall sports, most games that get shut down due to a positive test result will not be made up at a later date. For spring sports, there will be a greater effort to make up conference games lost.

While Central Connecticut has had athletics going on the past few months with men’s and women’s basketball, the sports being played this spring might not operate the same. Pincince said that it is possible that a single positive test result does not shut down an entire team but added, “you just don’t know.”

The Blue Devils have had a team shut down following a tier one positive test result before. The women’s basketball’s schedule was completely rewritten after winter break when the Blue Devils had a positive test as well as the two teams they were scheduled to face.

“It’s difficult news to hear but our student athletes realized they’re not the only ones going through it,” Pincince said on the team’s January shut down. “It’s hard when you mentally prepare to play in a game and then the day before you find out you’re not going to play. That’s unfortunately just how our testing works.”

Pincince said the Blue Devils “want to get out there and compete” and that they are “willing to do what we need to do in order to make that happen.”

While there are a lot of games to look forward to for the Blue Devils, Pincince said he is still taking things slowly.

“It’s day by day, week by week, game by game, practice by practice.”