Emory & Henry athletics aren’t going to look the same as we enter into the 2020-2021 seasons. The athletics department and college administration have decided to push all Fall and Winter sports to the Spring as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The school itself shut down in March, sending students home to work more remote. For many senior spring athletes, they played their final game sooner than expected.
E&H plays in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The ODAC Presidents Council and Board of Directors made the unanimous decision to cancel spring sports indefinitely for the remainder of the season, including all championships and post season play on March 13, 2020.
After a full summer of social distancing, wearing masks and hand sanitizer, it is that time for school to be back in session. As of right now only freshmen, with the exception of a few, are on campus.
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Saxton said, “There isn’t much we can do with them at all. They are working out on their own trying to get themselves back in shape from the long layover of not playing any sports.”
Around this time football season would be gearing up. This year football, along with 14 other varsity sports will have to sit and wait for their season next semester.
Student-athletes are free to return to campus in early October at their own discretion. They must follow strict safety protocols put in place by the college, but programs are still able to hold their own practices, however, are limited to no outside competition. Additionally, teams are following their own safety measures to ensure their players safety.
“Masks are worn at all times, along with sanitizing their hands and frequently cleaning surfaces,” said Coach Saxton, “the least we have them coming into contact with one another and maintaining social distancing, the better shot we have at being safe.”
The future is still uncertain. With the postponement of all sports through the end of the 2020 calendar year, spring and winter athletes will have been without live gameplay for over a year. Athletic Director Anne Crutchfield is still optimistic.
In a statement released to all student-athletes and coaches Crutchfield said, “I fully expect practices, training sessions, and other team activities to be happening this upcoming fall semester. Our plan is to have all of our teams active and together this fall as safely as we can do so.”
The ODAC will be releasing a schedule for all sports participating this spring. Emory & Henry has made the decision to only host non-conference competition but travel for conference and NCAA postseason play.
One thing is certain, the roar of the stands at Fred Selfe Stadium will be silenced, the tailgating field will be vacant on homecoming weekend and the echo of the student section at Bob Johnson Court will be hushed this fall and winter. Emory & Henry fans, parents, athletes and alumni will have to wait patiently before cheering on their favorite players and teams.