After months of no athletic competitions, Sacred Heart University Athletics are in full swing as the spring semester unfolds. Athletics were halted last March due to COVID-19, and protocols have been implemented by the athletic department for the health and safety of the coaches and student athletes who are performing this spring.
“I am so happy for the student athletes to do what they love to do most,” said Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine. “That is to be with their teams and to compete out on the field, ice, court or in the pool.”
The Athletic Department has made adjustments to practices and games in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.
“There has been so much preparation,” said Valentine. “First off, practices look different. We have smaller groups and we have different places where teams have to practice.”
The intended spring sports are competing. Due to COVID-19 and the cancellation of fall sports in 2020, a number of fall sports are being combined with spring sports to play during the spring season.
“The adjustment that Sacred Heart University has made within this COVID society and the adjustments the athletic department has made within the university have been rewarding,” said Valentine. “We will be able to learn from this experience as we move forward.”
The following teams are underway in their season: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s fencing, women’s soccer, women’s bowling, wrestling, men’s and women’s volleyball, and men’s lacrosse.
Men’s basketball is 6-6 on the season and 6-5 in their conference. Women’s basketball is 7-5 on the season and 7-3 in their conference. The top four teams in the men’s and women’s basketball Northeast Conference (NEC) will qualify for tournament play, which has been reduced from eight teams to four teams due to COVID-19.
Men’s and women’s track and field opened their season on Feb. 7 at the UAlbany Invitational. Neither team finished in the top 10 of any race.
Men’s ice hockey is 4-7-2 on the season. Junior John Benson was named Atlantic Hockey goalie of the week on Feb. 9 after 52 saves in two games. Women’s ice hockey is 1-4 after winning their first game on Feb. 9 against Long Island University (LIU).
Men’s fencing was defeated by Drew University 3-2 and women’s fencing won against Drew 4-0. On Feb. 10, women’s soccer opened their season with a tie against Fordham.
Women’s bowling is 5-3 on the season. Rachel Bamford was named NEC Bowler of the Week on Feb. 10.
Wrestling is 0-2 with the EIWA Championships on Feb. 26 at Spooky Nook Sports Complex, Lancaster, PA.
Men’s volleyball is 0-2, and women’s volleyball is 0-1. Men’s lacrosse is 0-1 after their season opener against Stony Brook.
In the upcoming weeks, the following teams will begin their season: football on Mar. 7, baseball on Feb. 23, softball on Feb. 27, women’s lacrosse on Feb. 27, men’s soccer on Feb. 17, men’s tennis on Feb. 20, women’s tennis on Feb. 16, women’s field hockey on Mar. 7, men’s and women’s swimming and diving on Mar. 29, men’s golf on Apr. 23, and women’s golf on Apr. 16.
Valentine gave advice to the student athletes and coaches prior to the spring season.
“The one quality we are going to lean on the athletes for is their ability to adjust and adapt,” said Valentine. “You have to be able to pivot on a dime.”
At the moment, there will be no fans allowed at the games.
“We’re hoping we will be able to open up some of the games during the spring for a portion of fans to come,” said Valentine. “Luckily, we have the technology to Zoom many of our games so family and friends can see things being done in a 2D environment.”