Northeastern winter sports teams to return stronger than ever
November 9, 2020
Northeastern’s winter sports’ seasons have been delayed due to the pandemic but are now expected to return starting late November. Given the dangers of COVID-19, an array of protocols and regulations have been implemented to protect the health of the Northeastern community.
“Our student-athletes are, just like everybody else in the student body, getting tested three times a week. We’re constantly reminding them of the best practices of personal hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing,” said Bill Coen, head coach of the men’s basketball team. “We’re trying to keep everybody healthy and protect the pack.”
Skylar Fontaine, a senior defender for the women’s hockey team, attested to the new guidelines put in place and the challenges of preparing to play during a pandemic.
“We still have to wear face masks in the rink,” Fontaine said. “Here at our gym, we’re only allowed to have four of us at a time working out, so we don’t get to work out as a team, and you have to sign up for lift and in order to enter the rink you have to swipe in and show a wellness check.”
Jared Auclair, director of Northeastern’s biotechnology program and the Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Laboratory, expressed his confidence in a safe return of sports at Northeastern — given that proper regulations are followed.
“If all the athletes and students do what they’re supposed to do in terms of wearing their masks when they’re supposed to, getting tested on their three-day cycle, I think that there’s not much risk at all,” Auclair said. “If those guidelines and measures the university put in place to keep us all safe are pushed to the wayside, then I think the risk is potentially pretty high.”
Northeastern athletes are in no way taking the pandemic lightly and have committed to creating a safe environment in which to play sports.
“My biggest concern would be keeping safe as a team because, as we all know, we are currently in a pandemic and our safety can be compromised at any time,” said Jason Strong, a graduate forward for the men’s basketball team. ”We just want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to make sure we stay safe and healthy.”
Coach Coen expressed his confidence in his team and the Northeastern community.
“I’m really proud of the student body here at Northeastern,” Coen said. “I think everybody is taking this pandemic very seriously and they’re being very respectful of their community members.”
This season will also be marked by the growing social justice movement that has spread throughout the country.
“With everything that’s gone on with the social justice movement and understanding the political climate we’re in, what encourages me most is the youth of America,” Coen said. “When you hear some of the young people speak — whether it’s on social justice issues, the pandemic, the political future or economic disparities — I think there’s just so much hope that this next generation can create an even better environment and an even better future for everybody in this country.”
Northeastern athletes have dedicated themselves to promoting social justice and fighting for a better future.
“We plan on this year having social justice slogans on our warm-up jerseys and uniforms and we plan to use that as a platform,” Strong said. “We plan to bring awareness to it in any way we can on and off the court.”
While the pandemic has brought an onslaught of challenges and uncertainty, athletes have maintained positive attitudes and used this time to create unity within their teams.
“Everyone at all these different schools that we play against is going through the same thing,” Fontaine said. “That’s something that we all try to keep inside our heads — that we’re not alone and we’re all in this together.”
Though the COVID-19 restrictions can feel isolating, Northeastern athletes have taken this opportunity to build stronger bonds than ever before.
“I think this time has brought us even closer together,” Strong said. “It’s nice to know that we can count on each other because in the end, we’re the people that are going to be there for us.”