Fate of winter sports still up in air, targeting November decision

Freshman+Zach+Waterhouse+finishes+a+reverse+layup+under+the+net+for+2+of+his+17+points+against+Springfield+in+the+2019+NEWMAC+semifinals.+

Media: Anissa Gardizy

Freshman Zach Waterhouse finishes a reverse layup under the net for 2 of his 17 points against Springfield in the 2019 NEWMAC semifinals.

By Domenic Conte, Managing Editor

The status of the NEWMAC winter sports season remains in jeopardy as teams are set to begin practicing on Oct. 18, Athletic Director Pat Nicol said. 

“Certainly, health and safety is paramount,” Nicol said. “We’ll look at the numbers, and we’ll follow institutional, state, and federal guidelines… and that’s why decisions have not been made yet, because things are still evolving, and recommendations that are coming out are changing daily.” 

Nicol said that she is hoping for news about the direction of the winter season—which includes women’s and men’s basketball and men’s volleyball— sometime around the second week of November, and that the decision will fall on NEWMAC school presidents. 

“It’s going to be an institutional decision, or like the fall, where the president’s made a collective decision that there will be no NEWMAC sports,” Nicol said. “But each school will have their own autonomy.” 

If winter sports do take place this year, Nicol said that newly released guidelines will require student athletes to receive testing three times per week, beginning the week before competition. Additionally, anyone in close contact with student athletes, trainers, or coaches will also be subject to tri-weekly testing. 

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“They call it the bubble, or tier one, and what that means is that anybody that’s directly related or has any direct interaction or contact with the students, athletic trainers, coaches, they all have to be tested three times a week,” Nicol said.

So far this semester, the Brown and Plofker Gym has operated as a classroom for performing arts classes, while the only two teams practicing, women’s and men’s soccer, hold de-densified practices on Rotch Field. The basketball teams and men’s volleyball team will share gym space with the Performing Arts Department when practices begin later this month. 

Since students are not allowed to house visitors, Emerson’s typical recruiting strategy of attracting prospects for overnight visits is no longer feasible. Instead, Nicol said recruits are being met on Boylston Street and sometimes walked through the Boston Common during visits.