Oct 30, 2020 | SPORTS | By Kevin Peterson | Photo courtesy of The Catalyst Archives
This past year has greatly affected college athletes nationwide, as conferences and divisions postpone their sports’ seasons due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the shortened seasons and revised schedules, many Division I winter sports athletes have questioned whether or not to compete this season given the four-year eligibility restraints.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), which the Colorado College hockey team plays in, recently announced a schedule for a “pod” in Omaha, Neb. The Tigers will play 10 games during the first three weeks of December, playing around three to four games a week. Omaha was chosen as the location for the pod due to its easy access to the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Global Center for Health Security, who will be handling the on-site testing of players, coaches and staff.
“I can’t wait to get into the pod,” goalie Matt Vernon ’23 said. “It’s going to be an absolute riot. All of the guys have been itching to play real games. The NCHC is a world-class division for college hockey so I know they’re going to do a really good job making sure that the players and staff are well protected and safe.”
Although the NCHC implemented a plan for the season, the shortened nature of the season caused many players across the country to question whether they should play or not. With only four years of eligibility, these athletes were concerned about using one of these years on a non-traditional season. However, this conflict was resolved when the National Collegiate Athletic Association recently granted all Division I winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility.
“I think that it’s an awesome opportunity with the shortened season coming up. If one of the teams gets hit by COVID, there’s a potential that you don’t even play the full season,” Vernon said. “The guys are a little less worried about having to prove themselves this year if they want to go onto the next level because they have a few extra years. As much as everyone wants to get out of college and play pro, sometimes that extra year can work wonders for guys.”
The Tigers look forward to their arrival at the pod in Omaha. Concrete schedules and protocols are expected to be released in the coming weeks.