By Abby Pomerleau, Contributing Writer
After some sports weren’t able to play games during the fall 2020 athletic season, UMF is planning to have a successful fall athletics season next semester with scheduled games and events.
Teams who could play and practice were restricted to social distancing and wearing masks while practicing and student-athletes had to complete a form before every practice for a COVID-19 screening.
With the 2021 spring season approaching, the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) and the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), the conferences UMF’s fall athletics play in, are planning competitive games and events. “Travel restrictions will be lifted by next fall, so all things point to us being able to travel and play outside of the state of Maine,” said Cynthia Pratt, head coach of the UMF field hockey team.
Although competitions are taking place, there will still be possible restrictions during the season, such as wearing masks, and the success of the season may depend on factors related to COVID-19 vaccinations. “I am pretty confident about having fall seasons that look and feel more like a normal season,” said Julie Davis, UMF’s Director of Athletics, in an email. “So much will depend on the state of the virus, including the vaccination rate. I won’t be surprised if there is still some masking required we’ve learned when they are used consistently and properly, they work to protect both ourselves and others. I am just hopeful that the context doesn’t require them to the degree they are now.”
Games and events may be resuming as normal, but other aspects of the season may change. “I feel like bus rides and hotel stays are going to look a bit different with more spacing being put in place” said Jonah Sautter, a current junior who plays for the men’s soccer team. Bus rides and hotels are places where teams bond. Having this built-in team bonding time taken away or altered may affect the morale of the team.
In the fall of 2020, teams did practices, but they were not able to compete. Having an entire year off of competition raises concern. “My only worries are for the players on my team and how taking an entire season off might affect them,” said Pratt. “Will they be ready in the fall? Will they once again regain that competitive spirit? It will be my responsibility as a coach to be sure they are focused and prepared. I can give them all the tools and then they have to commit to being the best they can be.”
As the 2021 season rolls around, hopes are high for the competitive season to go as planned. “I’m excited and looking forward to a sense of normalcy,” said Sautter. “It’s crazy to think all of these guidelines and rules have been in place for over a year now, but I just look forward to things beginning to go back to normal.”
The athletic department may have a new normal, but the importance of the game remains the same. “I am excited to coach games,” said Pratt. “I love competition and watching my players compete to the best of their ability. I love watching them get better at practice everyday and taking all the things we work on and apply it to a game situation.”
The expectation regarding fans is that they will be able to attend outdoor games as long as they are wearing masks and social distancing. The plans for the season as well as the topic of fans are subject to change as the fall season becomes closer.
To stay updated on fall athletics or get in contact with staff in the athletic department, visit athletics.umf.maine.edu.
by Faith Rouillard, Contributing Writer
Over 125 students signed up to participate in kickball, thus launching intramural sports for the 2020-21 school year at UMF.
“Intramural sports are sports leagues that are designed to be played on campus with our UMF community,” said FRC Assistant Director Leah Brackett. Students began with kickball and after a two week season and a one week playoff period, the sport and teams will switch completely.
Games take place four nights a week at the FRC: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:00-11:00 p.m. Each game takes no more than an hour and not every team plays all four nights. Senior and kickball caption Ella Russel said, “It’s important to move your body, and this a fun way to stay active!”
“Intramurals are very important right now,” said Brackett. “It is a way to keep our students engaged and on campus.”
“Intramural sports provide a way to connect with people on campus that I wouldn’t normally bump into,” said Russel. “Intramurals provide social networking, familiarity with FRC and the amenities it has, and stress relief.” Russel explained how intramural sports are an effective study break. “I recommend intramural sports to the entire student body.”
Typically, the staff provides a variety of sports and activities, including volleyball, kickball, pickleball, indoor soccer, arena football, basketball, dodgeball, among others. This year, the staff has to be cautious in what sports can take place while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Due to the pandemic, upon arrival students are met at the door by staff members to check-in. They are required to self-screen and report to the staff. “We ask that everyone sanitizes their hands and wear a mask the entire time they are in the building,” said Brackett. The FRC is closed to the public during games and doesn’t allow spectators, limiting the number of people in the building. The staff diligently disinfects equipment periodically during games as well.
Brackett is the intramurals coordinator and leads all student staff. Callie Hammer is this year’s student leader and makes the staff schedules, referees games, “and helps out my amazing boss, Leah Brackett,” she said.
“Our staff dynamics are awesome,” said Brackett. “Working intramural sports teaches confidence and conflict resolution.” A large majority of the student staff are UMF varsity athletes.
“If you’re not on a sports team but still appreciate competition, intramural sports are a great alternative,” said Russel. Many students on varsity teams participate in intramurals but not all that participate in intramurals play varsity sports.
“For old high school athletes, intramurals gives a sense of normalcy for being on a team again,” said Hammer. “Intramurals is a great atmosphere and a lot of the students enjoy participating.”
“My goal is to increase participation in intramural sports,” said Brackett. The 125 students are spread out among nine kickball teams, but there is typically room for up to 16 teams.
“Teams are very simple to set up,” said Russel. “As the captain, I went to the Facebook page and filled out my team’s roster.” To get involved in intramural sports visit their Facebook page (UMF Intramural Sports) or their Instagram page (@umfimsports).
Pickleball will be the next sport to take place. Contact Leah Brackett via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for any COVID safe suggestions, “We are open to change and always want to do what the students want,” she said.
by Cassidy Delano, Contributing Writer
Women’s Basketball Coach Jamie Beaudoin promotes student athlete voting registration, as The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) set a 100% team registration goal.
The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) and the WBCA set high expectations for their student athletes. They encouraged all coaches to get all their student athletes registered to vote. “It’s a new initiative put forth by these coaching associations,” Beaudoin said. “Not to say it hasn’t always been important, but with the presidential election coming up, and social media being so big, this information is easier to get out,”.
Beaudoin shared this information with his team, asking who was registered and offering aid to players wanting to get registered. Being registered isn’t something he requires for his team, but feels a responsibility to promote it. “I think the most important thing for my team is that they are aware of the opportunity to be able to vote, and that I provide them with the support they need to get registered,” Beaudoin said.
Chelsea Crockett, a junior on the women’s basketball team got registered to vote soon after hearing about the national goal. “Voting is important to me because it gives me a say in how things are run on a local and national level,” Crockett said.
Beaudoin sees the value in voting as well. “Democracy is not a spectator sport, if you are not registered to vote you can’t participate. So my goal, as well as the goal of the NABC and WBCA, is to get as many new potential voters to register to vote, making it easier for them,” Beaudoin said.
Molly Folsom, a Junior on the women’s basketball team, is still unconvinced about getting registered. “I can’t help but think the system is rigged,” Folsom said. “It’s about who has more money in their pocket, rather than actual democracy.”
Crockett feels that student athletes have the ability to influence the rest of campus, and thus makes it more important for them to vote. “ I think it is important that we all are registered to vote and exercise our right to vote. We are leaders on campus and by being registered to vote we are showing how important voting is and hopefully encouraging the rest of campus to vote with us,” Crockett said.
Beaudoin recognizes that sometimes people don’t vote because they don’t really understand what they’re voting for. “One thing that’s really difficult is that most people understand the importance of voting, but don’t know what they’re voting for. This becomes a road block for people,” Beaudoin said.
Folsom agrees that lack of political knowledge is a factor that holds her back. “I sometimes feel I don’t know enough about politics to make an educated decision during an election,” Folsom said.
Crockett encourages her teammates as well as other students on campus to vote. “I definitely think student-athletes promoting voting will help other students realize how important voting is. I think as a college student it is hard to feel like you have a say in how things are run, but this is one of the ways to show how important one vote, and one person, can be in influencing our elected officials and our laws,” Crockett said.
For more information about voting visit https://allintovote.org/.
by Ashley Clark Contributing Writer
Near the end of summer break, UMF made the decision to allow student athletes to participate in their sports season; however, these seasons have been altered to align with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
The athletics department came to this tough decision after watching numerous videos and Zoom calls from the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), led by medical professionals.
The department is also keeping up to date with COVID-19 trends in Maine in order to protect incoming student athletes returning to school in the fall.
Julie Davis, Director of Athletics, worked with coaching and sports medicine staff on campus, in addition to attending meetings with athletic directors from within the sports conference. “You have challenges as a director anyway, but probably the hardest thing is dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity for a sustained period of time,” said Davis.
The athletic department was determined to develop a plan of action that would allow student athletes to participate in sports. They have also made it mandatory that all student athletes living on and off campus must participate in the early testing program provided by a COVID-19 testing company in the Fitness and Recreational Center (FRC).
Fall sports such as field hockey, soccer and cross country are not able to compete, but athletes are still able to attend practices.
The department has developed a month long process with differing levels of intensity for each week, with the intention for safe team practices.
The first week of practice involved routine temperature checks with no equipment use— conditioning exercises only. All practices must also consist of physical distancing at six feet, wearing a face mask and sanitizing when possible.
Jade Petrie, a junior and Early Childhood Education major, participates in both field hockey and lacrosse. Wearing her mask during her practices has been hard enough, even at the start of her fall sports season. “It’s really hard to wear because when you start to run, you breathe heavily and suck in the mask,” Petrie said. “It makes it almost impossible for you to catch your breath.”
Liz Ouellette, senior and Elementary Education major, is also a member of the field hockey team. Her last season has been impacted by the changes to the fall sports season. “There’s no team bonding, such as having dinners together, because there are too many people to be in a house. We can’t have bus rides, games, anything really,” said Ouellette.
The athletics department is working hard to assure that athletes are able to at least practice. Many are just grateful to even be able to participate with one another. “I think it is better to have something than nothing,” says Ouellette. “It’s my senior year and having practices with a team I’ve spent the past three years with is better than not being able to at all.”
Petrie praises all the department’s work and planning. “I’m thankful that they are letting us have an opportunity to pick up my field hockey and lacrosse stick, regardless of playing games,” says Petrie.
COVID-19 guidelines are changing continuously, which makes it difficult to predict how the winter and spring sports seasons will look for student athletes. While fall sports already have a plan in motion, winter and spring sports are still being discussed. Winter sports are scheduled to start practicing soon. The athletic department is “planning [these seasons] with optimism,” says Davis.