Student-athletes react to return to competition
Some spring sports teams have been able to participate in local non-conference competition this term.
On April 24, some Big Green spring sports teams returned to in-person competition for the first time in over a year. After months of being limited to only practice and intrasquad competitions, various spring athletes got back into action competing against local non-conference opponents — both in Hanover and on the road.
After a tumultuous winter that included a COVID-19 outbreak late in the term, athletes returned to campus this term with the possibility of competition — although it canceled conference play for the spring, the Ivy League decided to allow teams to partake in non-Ivy competitions.
For members of the track and field team, practices have been more consistent and formal since the winter. Student-athletes living on campus or with on-campus approval experienced practices that were active and fairly normal, except for practice times being slightly more spaced out and the expectation that athletes would be masked at all times.
This spring, the track and field team has competed in two non-conference meets in addition to an intrasquad competition, with one final competition taking place this weekend at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. The first meet was held at the University of New Hampshire followed by a meet at Dartmouth. Some members of the Big Green ran for the first time while others competed for the last time, but sprinter Donovan Spearman ’21 said everyone was excited to be back in action after over 400 days away.
“Considering the short amount of time that we've been together and practicing, there were a lot of amazing performances that happened from individuals this past weekend, which was really exciting to see,” Spearman said. “As crazy as the four years have been, especially these past two years, I'd say that this meet was a really good way to end it all for the seniors and for the season.”
The women’s lacrosse team had a slightly different path to competition this term, as members of the team not living on campus were not able to practice until just weeks before their first game.
“When we went back, it kind of felt like the most special opportunity to be back on [Scully-Fahey Field],” midfielder Claire Marshall ’21 said. “We had the morning slot practices, so it almost felt a little bit like fall ball — waking up before most of campus is up and just having that special time to be together with our team and doing what we love.”
The team competed three times this spring, including an 11-5 loss in its opening game against Tufts University on April 25. Although the seniors had not been practicing with the team, Marshall said they jumped at the opportunity to wear the jersey again, even knowing that the transition back into full competition would be difficult.
“I wouldn't trade having that game for anything,” Marshall said. “And I'm still so glad we got the opportunity to play. And after we were down by I think five goals, I looked around at a lot of the seniors and we all just said like, let's leave it all out there, let's have fun, let's be fearless. It was a good day.”
The team bounced back from its loss to Tufts three days later, defeating Division II opponent St. Michael's 19-2 on April 28.
The men’s tennis team had some early troubles with its return to competition, as its first opponent of the spring season, Colby-Sawyer College, had to pull out of their matchup on April 24 due to a missing COVID-19 test result. The team was eventually able to play a scrimmage against Division III opponent Williams College. In the scrimmage, the Big Green had a strong showing in doubles, sweeping all three matches. Dartmouth also won four of the six singles matches to win its only match of the season.
Team member Peter Conklin ’21 said that the seniors were happy to get a last match in before the end of their college careers.
“It was definitely exciting to have some opportunities for competition,” Conklin said. “So I think a lot of the guys were excited about that. And more so for the seniors about getting on the courts and less about playing the match, just having one more chance to play on the courts. It's definitely not like the same thing as a regular season, but it was definitely a nice gesture by Dartmouth.”
All of the spring sports teams were restricted by the Ivy League’s rule that only allowed Big Green teams to compete against teams within a 100-mile radius of Hanover, limiting the men’s tennis team’s schedule.
“Being in Dartmouth —being in Hanover, New Hampshire — the options are kind of limited with who we could play,” Conklin said. “I'm sure if there were more teams around, I'm sure everyone would have done whatever they could to schedule those matches. But there just [are] not that many teams around Hanover that are 100 miles away.”