“Prevent the spread” signs are scattered across the Marist College campus to remind students to follow health protocols to keep everyone safe and avoid disciplinary action. These protocols have proven to be especially difficult for athletic teams whose fall seasons were canceled and can practice in only a limited fashion. The MAAC Task Force established three phases of practicing and we currently sit in phase two, conditioning in small groups (pods) with little to no equipment.
One big question looms as we inch closer to the spring seasons. If fall sports, like soccer and football, are permitted to play in the spring, how will field time be split amongst them all?
It’s not just the Division I teams that have to be accounted for, it’s the club and intramural teams as well. The Division I men’s and women’s teams have priority over the club and intramural sports at Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field, which has forced these teams to either find a different location to play on or play incredibly late at night — 9:00 p.m. start times or later. Field time has already been an issue for years, and adding fall sports will only increase tension.
Is there a plan for spring field management? How do you make room for those clubs and intramural teams? Will the Marist Athletics Department have to reduce field time for all teams or just for club and intramurals? How do you schedule spring sports games along with fall sports?
Then, of course, there’s another issue which is returning to campus amidst COVID-19. Will we be back for the spring season? What will be the protocols? Will teams and players be disciplined like the National Football League for not following protocols?
Marist Athletics as well as Associate Athletic Director for Facilities & Operations Darren McCormack have declined to comment on the situation of field availability.
It seems with so much uncertainty, it’s appropriate to evaluate the situation on a weekly basis, especially because COVID-19 cases are expected to spike across the country as we approach the later stages of autumn and into winter.
One can only speculate so much on how the spring season will unfold, if it happens at all, but with not much to work with, let’s consider a plan that could perhaps work for all teams.
The sports that would use the field, given fall sports are allowed to play during the spring season, would be men’s and women’s lacrosse that both have at least seven home regular-season games, plus playoffs, that are played practically any day of the week. This is also men’s and women’s soccer with at least eight home regular-season games that are typically played on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Add all of these games together and we get a total of 35 home games in 16 weeks, excluding playoffs, between February and May. There may also be five football home games. None of this takes into account practices or the club team games and practices.
As for club sports, men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse games range from three to six home games depending on how many games are scheduled per season, which would put the total number of games above 40. Other varying club sports such as ultimate frisbee also rely on holding practice at the field a few times per week.
Additional field availability also rears its head with intramural sports. Sports such as co-ed soccer, flag football, cornhole, and frisbee golf all rely on utilizing Leonidoff Field.
Given the large number of games and Marist’s determination to get students as involved as possible, it would seem unlikely that they cut any of these sports out of the program. In fact, it seems more likely that they would push these sports to other locations like North and South Fields, Campus Green, and the Underpass Field.
All of this would be possible assuming COVID-19 doesn’t have a major impact on athletic teams and the student population over the course of the spring semester.
Edited by Dave Connelly and Bridget Reilly