By EMILY WARREN
On Jan. 22, UMW released a statement canceling the remainder of fall and winter sport competitions for the 2021 academic year. The cancelation was deemed necessary due to the health concerns of the surrounding region. Many athletic teams at UMW, including the women’s basketball team, have been affected due to this cancellation.
The women’s basketball team has already seen their season cut in half due to University’s COVID-19 regulations, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) protocols and Coast 2 Coast conference regulations. The team now has limited game play with their normal three hour practices cut down to one hour. This new update to the fall and winter sports have cancelled the rest of the games the team would have played this spring 2021 semester, which would have consisted of about two to three games a week during a regular season.
The restrictions have also limited the number of players at practice — the team was initially unable to share the same basketball at all, though balls can now be shared by family units. Because the 16 members of the women’s basketball team were not allowed to practice together this season, team bonding was very difficult.
“The news of cancelling our season has hurt many of us, especially our seniors. Our team was willing to do anything to be able to play even a few games this semester,” said junior business administration major Emily Shively. “Many of us have been playing basketball for over half of our lives and no one is going overseas or in the WNBA, so college is our last chance to play the sport we love at a highly competitive level.”
For many athletes, including the basketball team, they chose to attend UMW so that they could continue playing the sport they love for another four years. The cancelation of the season has taken away from the limited time these athletes have left to participate in the sport they dedicate so much of their time and life to.
“For the girls on the team, I’m sure it’s never fun to hear that you can’t play the game you love most. That being said, everyone just wants to stay healthy and safe, so whatever those decisions and precautions, they come with an understanding,” said senior sociology major and team manager Tessa Stern. “For me personally, I was sad because I have been a manager of this team since my freshman year. Nothing beats the feeling and excitement of game day when I have watched and been a part of the team for years. The energy [at games] from the team, managers, and coaches is always unbeatable.”
The University will allow fall and winter sports to continue to have organized practices as long as they follow UMW’s monitoring, masking, distancing and cleaning (MMDC) protocols. The University has stated that the Athletic Department will be working to prepare to allow sports teams to begin practice on February 15 adhering to NCAA and Coast 2 Coast guidelines that will allow for safe gatherings.
Christopher Newport University, who is also in the same Coast 2 Coast conference as UMW, has some of their sports teams scheduled to compete in the upcoming weeks. Likewise, a local Virginia sports conference, Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), has been allowing athletes to compete in the recent weeks.
“[The news about the season] made me feel terrible for the women who worked so hard to prepare for a chance to feel like themselves for the first time in a year. I want everyone to be safe and healthy so it’s just tough on all fronts to try to emotionally get to a good place about it,” said sophomore sociology major and team manager Hannah Abraham.
Shively said that the team plans on moving forward with the allowed practices for three weeks. She, along with other members of the women’s basketball team, plan on attending every practice that the university allows. They are still looking forward to making the best out of the small amount of time they have left as athletes at UMW.