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The Dartmouth women’s volleyball team (8-2, 0-1 Ivy League) dropped their first home conference game last Friday against Harvard University (4-6, 1-0 Ivy League) in five sets: 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 23-25 and 15-11. After falling behind with losses in both of the first two sets, the Big Green rallied but eventually fell to a stout Crimson squad.
This spring, fewer COVID-19 restrictions and warmer weather have allowed the Dartmouth football team to enjoy its most frequent regular practice schedule since the beginning of the pandemic. Although many restrictions remain — including the continued requirement of masks underneath players’ helmets — low case counts and high vaccination rates brought about fully-padded practices for the first time in over a year.
In February, following the retirement of former athletics director Harry Sheehy, Peter Roby ’79 was appointed as Dartmouth’s interim athletics director. Roby assumed the role after months of controversy surrounding the elimination and eventual reinstatement of five varsity athletic teams. Roby was a varsity basketball player during his time at Dartmouth, and served as Northeastern University’s athletics director from 2007 to 2018. Roby sat down with The Dartmouth to discuss the recent return to competition, his transition into his new role and how he is working to rebuild trust within the athletics department.
As Dartmouth sports teams begin spring practices amid their fourth consecutive season impacted by COVID-19, warmer weather is allowing for the opening of some outdoor facilities and, for Dartmouth student-athletes, brings with it the promise of a return to competition in the near future. Despite the Ivy League’s decision to cancel conference play this spring, Dartmouth teams will be allowed by the conference to compete in non-Ivy competitions within 100 miles of Hanover, Provost Joseph Helble said in a “Community Conversations” livestream Wednesday. Softball, men’s and women’s track and field and men’s and women’s tennis are scheduled to begin competing on April 24, while men’s lacrosse and possibly heavyweight rowing are expected to begin competing later in the spring. Spectators will not be allowed at those competitions, and details are being finalized by the athletics department, according to Helble.
Just two weeks after his promotion to the Pittsburgh Penguins taxi squad in January, Drew O’Connor ’22 made his National Hockey League debut against the Boston Bruins. Though the Penguins fell in a 3-2 loss, O’Connor contributed an assist on the first goal of the game, marking his first career point in his first career appearance.
As Dartmouth and the Ivy League approach a full year without athletic competition, the College’s process of recruiting athletes has changed significantly. COVID-19 restrictions have drastically limited in-person scouting and campus visits, and coaches face an additional challenge: convincing athletes to commit to a conference that, almost uniquely among Division I schools, has not seen competition since last March, and choosing a school recovering from the controversial elimination and reinstatement of five sports teams.
On Feb. 17, the Dartmouth athletics department announced that three coaches from the five reinstated teams would return to their positions, including diving coach Chris Hamilton, men’s golf head coach Rich Parker and men’s lightweight rowing head coach Dan Roock. Former swimming and diving head coach Jamie Holder and women’s golf head coach Alex Kirk chose not to return to the Big Green staff.
On Tuesday, with the initial two-week quarantine over for students living on campus, student-athletes resumed training. After a fall term marked by stringent COVID-19 regulations on practice and low COVID-19 rates campus-wide, this winter’s return-to-sports protocol is slightly more accelerated.
Over 10 months after Ivy League athletic competition shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spring-sport athletes now face the possibility of losing a second consecutive season. Although the final decision on spring athletics will be made later this term by the College administration — working alongside the athletics department — the possibility of intercollegiate varsity athletic competition depends on Ivy League conference-wide guidance.
The Ivy League’s November cancellation of winter sports, and its decision not to move fall sports to the spring, have dashed senior athletes’ hopes for a proper sendoff. Due to the league’s staunch policy against graduate athletic participation, many student-athletes have transferred out of the conference to take advantage of their final years of eligibility.
On Thursday, the Ivy League announced the cancellation of all winter athletic competition. For the sports affected — basketball, ice hockey, indoor track and field, skiing and squash — there is currently no timeline for resuming competition prior to the 2022 season.
As an unusual fall term draws to a close, Dartmouth’s sports teams have continued to find ways to practice while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Currently, all teams remain in stage two of the College’s three-stage return-to-sports protocol. During phase two, teams have been able to hold practices, albeit with restrictions on shared equipment, number of people and practice duration.
On-campus student-athletes have begun ramping up their practices to prepare for potential seasons this winter or spring. Most teams are entering phase two of the athletic department’s three-phase return-to-sport protocol, which was designed in conjunction with Ivy League policies.
After playing over 150 seasons combined, the men’s and women’s golf teams’ trajectories came to an abrupt end as part of the athletic cuts this summer. Reflecting on the legacy of the programs, both current golfers and alumni fondly recalled the sense of community they found through the sport.
As the academic year begins, every Dartmouth student faces a vastly different college experience, with performance groups, clubs and other extracurricular activities holding few in-person gatherings. For club sports, which rely on the physical presence and close contact of team members, transitioning to a remote format has proven especially difficult. Although some socially distanced physical practice has been deemed permissible under College guidelines, club sports participation this fall will still be almost unrecognizable.
In a letter to the Board of Trustees on Aug. 25, 13 members of the swimming and diving team alleged that the College’s decision in July to cut five sports teams discriminated against Asian athletes. Signers of the letter, after conducting an informal survey of athletes at the College, claim that the program eliminations have reduced the number of Asian athletes at Dartmouth by nearly half.
After 28 years coaching the Big Green, Barry Harwick ’77, director of the track and field and cross country programs, announced his retirement from the program effective September 30. During his tenure, Harwick led the men’s cross country team to six Ivy League Heptagonal Championships titles and 10 NCAA Championship appearances. All of the teams Harwick has coached at Dartmouth— including the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams — have thrived under his guidance.
While Dartmouth students may only have four years on campus, they make connections that last well beyond their time at the College. Those connections can be particularly strong for student-athletes. Through shared experiences, Big Green student-athletes and alumni maintain a large web of personal and professional relationships.
At the end of each academic year, The Dartmouth sports section nominates athletes to be voted on by the Dartmouth community as the best of the best. In this year’s sports awards, six of the top rookies, six of the top moments, five of the top female athletes and five of the top male athletes are pitted against each other, with the winners emerging after a vote by members of the Dartmouth community.
At the end of each academic year, The Dartmouth sports section nominates athletes to be voted on by the Dartmouth community as the best of the best. In this year’s sports awards, six of the top rookies, six of the top moments, five of the top female athletes and five of the top male athletes will be pitted against each other over the next few weeks, with the winners emerging after a vote by members of the Dartmouth community.