Club Sports, Sports

Club sports teams embrace return to normalcy

After a year of restrictions, social distancing mandates and more, Boston University’s club sports teams are on their way back to normal. 

Like last year, club sports teams have been adapting and continuing to comply with University-wide mandates. Currently, the indoor mask mandate is the only major COVID-19 protocol that has remained since the spring.

Nickerson field track
The track on Nickerson Field. Boston University’s club sports teams are now allowed to practice as a full team after a year of practicing in groups of ten per club sports guidelines. Their only major remaining COVID-19 protocol is the indoor mask mandate. SHANNON DAMIANO/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

One sign of normalcy is that teams are now allowed to practice as a full team again after a year of being required to practice in cohorts of 10 people, per club sport guidelines. 

Additionally, many club teams could not recruit new members under pandemic restrictions, multiple club athletes said. This semester, incoming freshmen, sophomores and transfer students are all able to participate in club sports, resulting in a surge of new members. 

BU’s club triathlon team only had returning members on its roster the previous year, so bringing in new members has made a difference, said club vice president and Sargent College junior Ryan Christensen.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a huge influx of new members and new people signing up because that includes all freshmen and sophomores that we weren’t able to include last year,” Christensen said. 

Under pandemic restrictions, clubs were not approved to share equipment, leading members of club gymnastics to mostly practice tumbling and conditioning last year. Club baseball was not allowed to hit at all in the spring. In between infield and outfield transitions, players would disinfect the baseballs, and their practices mainly consisted of fielding drills, said club baseball president and College of Communication senior Ryan O’Connor. 

This year, though, they are allowed to use the shared equipment. 

“We’re basically back to normal, which is really exciting. We’re allowed to hit at our practices. We’re actually allowed to have a season now,” O’Connor said. “This whole semester is really focused on building back up and seeing what we can do even beyond that.”

One significant guideline that has changed is the ban on travel: teams were not allowed to travel off-campus last year. This year, teams can once more hit the road, which club gymnastics president and College of Arts and Science senior Cassidy Anderegg said will make a big impact on her club.

“Last year, [the travel ban] really affected our practices too, because we would usually travel to a couple local gymnastics gyms to practice,” Anderegg said. “We can go to our actual gymnastics gyms to practice [this year]. We are also able to use our equipment now when we do practice in FitRec. We just wipe it down between rotations and at the end of practice.”

In terms of competitions, no club sports team participated in any in-person games last year. Teams this year are working with other universities’ club sports teams to schedule games, meets, races and other competitions. Club women’s ice hockey president and CAS junior Sydney Bechtel said her team welcomes the chance to compete again.

“We are allowed to play games right now,” Bechtel said. “We’ve been in constant communication with other universities and their administrations to work that out. Obviously, who knows, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, but we’re really looking forward to beginning our season and seeing how we’ve progressed over the past year and a half.”

Despite the enormous changes in club sports policies over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, teams are ready to get back into full practices and return to competitive seasons.

“Coming back this semester, welcoming new players, seeing each other more frequently, that’s really boosted morale and I feel like really brought us together as a group,” Bechtel said. “We’re going to bring that momentum, that energy, that positivity and that general gratefulness to be with each other onto the ice in practice and also into our games in our season.” 

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