Sept. 4, 2020 | By Aleah Cordoba | Photo by Anil Jergens
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, Colorado College sits in the unique position of being one of only ten institutions that boasts two Division I teams and fifteen Division III teams. More than anything, the Athletic Department has been striving to be a source of strength and optimism as they navigate incredibly uncertain times for their student athletes and for the CC campus as a whole.
“We’re all hanging in there. We are very resilient in our world; we are very determined in our world. That’s just who we are as former athletes and former coaches,” said Lesley Irvine, the Director and Vice President of the Athletic Department here at CC and a former athlete and coach herself.
Sports at CC have more or less been dependent on the decisions, rules, and guidelines made by their conferences (the Mountain West conference, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) during this unprecedented time.
First and foremost, “there is going to be no competitive athletics this fall semester,” said Irvine. This includes Women’s Division I soccer in the Mountain West Conference and all fall Division III sports in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
However, the conferences and CC’s Athletic Department remain committed to players, ensuring competitive experiences and opportunities in the spring. There is the potential for all 350 student athletes at CC to be playing all at once this spring semester.
“It’s going to be a busy spring,” Irvine said.
Now that decisions have been made about fall sports, Irvine and the coaches are anticipating an announcement in the following weeks regarding winter sports. As of now, Division I Hockey is set to begin as scheduled in October, and Division III Basketball and Swimming and Diving are postponed until January and will therefore have condensed seasons.
But both Irvine and Head Coach of the hockey team, Michael Haviland, are doubtful that hockey will really begin in October.
Hockey players just finished their first week of practice. “They are super excited about just being here and being on the ice,” Haviland said of the players.
Right now, Haviland’s focus is on “trying to come up with creative ways to continue to teach and coach every day with [his] student athletes,” in order to adhere to NCAA, state, and campus regulations. Currently, players are practicing in groups of seven, with face masks, and doing mostly no-contact drills. Instead, students are focusing on skill development, as well as strength and conditioning. Coaches are forced to stay flexible and nimble, knowing things change on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s a different world,” said Haviland.
Above all, the priority of the Athletic Department at CC has been ensuring the “student athlete experience” for their athletes during these challenging times.
“We desperately miss the practice, we desperately miss the competition,” Irvine said. “We miss the heartache or glory of a tough loss or a great win. That’s what we are all in it for. I think everyone is missing that.”
Trying to get that feeling of competition back while also balancing NCAA rules and guidelines, state regulations, and campus safety has been and will continue to be the current focus and challenge of CC’s Athletic Department.