Spring Athletes Remain Flexible in the Face of COVID-19

The College reinstated the indoor mask mandate last week in response to increased COVID-19 cases on campus. While this has not been the first COVID-19 wave to hit the College community, the jump in cases has presented unique challenges for spring teams that have had to navigate smaller rosters and canceled games. 

College second-year on the lacrosse and soccer teams Maya Blevins explained that team activities had to be adjusted in accordance with ObieSafe regulations. Specifically, the women’s lacrosse team had to forfeit this past week due to an abnormally low number of field players, as many players are in isolation for COVID-19 exposure and miscellaneous injuries. 

“We had to cancel a game this past Saturday against DePauw,” Blevins wrote in an email to the Review. “We also had to miss two days of practice and made lift optional. Usually, we do film all together in the gym classroom, but instead, we were sent times to watch individually. Of course it has been very disappointing to lose time to be together, especially so close to the end of our season, but fortunately, throughout the majority of our season, we were mostly unaffected by COVID-19.”

Fourth-year lacrosse player Kiernan Stone believes that his team hasn’t been extremely affected by the rise in COVID cases on campus, but have had a couple players on the roster test positive.

“COVID’s affected our season a little bit this semester, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far,” he said. “We’ve only had a couple cases recently, so we missed a couple guys here and there, but we’ve been fortunate enough to not have widespread numbers throughout our team.”

In December 2021, when cases were rising on campus due to the Omicron variant, the team was worried that they wouldn’t be able to start their pre-season practices. Fortunately for them, by the time the squad returned to campus in January the numbers had dissipated.

In response to the rise in cases, Oberlin Athletics will continue to uphold the ObieSafe regulations implemented on April 21, keeping athletic facilities open with social distancing. The mask requirement was put back in place, with student-athletes required to wear masks during indoor meetings and in the weight room. However, in continuation with previous regulations, student-athletes are exempt from wearing masks during practice and competition. 

Delta Lodge Director of Athletics and Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos added that Oberlin Athletics will not be adding additional testing and will try to reschedule games that are canceled as a result of weather or COVID-19. 

“We will not be doing any additional testing, … staying the course with the guidelines that are in place today,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “Whether games are postponed/canceled due to weather or COVID-19, we always do our best to reschedule games.”

At this point, the women’s lacrosse team is used to being flexible regarding changes due to the pandemic. After experiencing a season cancellation and shortened season, the team is grateful for any day they get to play the game that they love. 

“Our team knows best the sharp adjustments that come with the pandemic,” Blevins wrote. “In 2020, the lacrosse season was cut short when Oberlin students got sent home. In 2021, we only got to play four games and wore masks while playing. I think this has made my team even more grateful for the times we do get to be together. Before every game, we remind ourselves that we never know what could happen tomorrow, so we have to give everything we have today.” 

Similarly, Stone knows what it’s like to have to navigate the pandemic with sports and emphasizes the importance of valuing your time with your teammates. In his, Stone was sent home in March of 2020 like the rest of campus, resulting in his season being cut short, and only got to play half of a regular season in 2021 when the College reinstated athletic competition. 

“We know things can change at any given moment, so we gotta play every moment as if it were our last,” he said. “All we can do is hope for the best, knowing that things could change right away. Cherishing the time that we have together is what keeps us going.”