Claire Boughton Tom Benoit Tyler daRosa
Sports Editor Arts & Entertainment Editor Equinox Staff
Plans can change very quickly during a pandemic.
That was the lesson learned over the weekend by the Keene State College Athletic Department.
October 17 was set to be a jam-packed day full of the fall sports teams competing in real, school vs. school competitions. Men’s soccer was set to face off against Rhode Island College and Plymouth State University on Dr. Ron Butcher Field as part of a Fall Jamboree. Women’s soccer would be participating in the Fall Jamboree as well, however they would be up at Plymouth State competing against the Anchormen and Panthers as well. The Keene State volleyball team was expected to travel down to Rhode Island College to compete in a tri-match tournament against the previously mentioned teams. And finally, the cross country team would be running at the Owls Athletic Conference in a dual meet against Plymouth State as a part of the Little East Conference Cross Country Championship Virtual Meet.
However, according to Phil Racicot, KSC’s Director of Athletics and Recreation, all competitions were called off after three Keene State student-athletes and several Plymouth State student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19.
“Even though the positive tests did not impact all the teams involved, [Keene State] would, out of precautionary measures, cancel all the events,” said Racicot.
Keene State had a special round of student-athlete-only testing on Wednesday, October 14, to test all athletes prior to the expected competition date. For outside competition, all student-athletes are required to have a negative test result within 72 hours of the competition.
Racicot explained that competition against Rhode Island College specifically had been cancelled before the test results had even come back for Keene.
“Originally Rhode Island College, because they had been working with us and following the same protocols, they were going to be involved in this weekend’s competition, but earlier this week… the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services had a weekly update meeting,” said Racicot. “It was determined at that meeting that due to a rise, kind of a spike, in Rhode Island that the State Epidemiologist, Dr. Chan, recommended that there should not be any travel to Rhode Island from New Hampshire… nor should we host athletic teams from Rhode Island.”
Megan Palmer, senior outside hitter and captain on the volleyball team, said that she was excited to travel down to Rhode Island College for outside competition. However, when the plans were cancelled she was frustrated.
“It was definitely frustrating cause that was like the first thing we had that was close to an actual season and it got canceled the day before,” said Palmer. “The whole week was back and forth in terms of if it was happening and it got canceled the day before which was frustrating because we prepared for it all week and got ourselves ready. And we were excited! But, we’ve been remaining flexible all season cause we know nothing is definite during this time so we accepted it.”
Another team that was disappointed when the news came was the women’s soccer team, who had been set to travel up to Plymouth State.
Denise Lyons, women’s soccer head coach, explained in an email interview how the team took the cancellations.
“They were very disappointed as they all had been looking forward to competing against Plymouth,” said Lyons. “They all had worked so hard in practice preparing for the game. It was a huge disappointment but they understood that their health and safety must come first.”
Lyons continued, stating that the toughness of the team is what will keep everyone’s spirits up during this time.
“They are a resilient group and have good leaders who will keep them together,” said Lyons. “We have 11 seniors on the team who lead by example.”
Lyons said that the goals of the team for the remainder of the season is to stay positive, maintain physical strength, learn new things and most importantly, have fun and stick together.
Rick Scott, men’s soccer head coach, had a similar story to tell about his own team’s reaction to the news.
“We were informed, I believe it was Thursday because we tested Wednesday night. So they said Plymouth had a couple positives and between that and us we were told that we would not be playing,” said Scott. “I was very honest with the team [when telling them about the cancellations], I told them that the games were cancelled and they were naturally very, very disappointed. We were really looking forward to the opportunity to get one game in. We would’ve played Plymouth for two 35-minute halves… so it was disappointing, but hey it’s a different environment that we are in right now so you are going to be dealt some setbacks and we just have to deal with them and move on.”
The future of fall games, whether they be scrimmages or outside competitions, is still uncertain.
Racicot says that right now, the athletic department is taking a step back and using this time to reevaluate protocols and safety measures.
“Right now, I think we are just taking a deep breath. You know, have a few more conversations before we move on to the next intrasquad scrimmage… I think it only just makes sense with this information being new and how quickly things change so we definitely want to monitor the current situation very closely.”
“When the [men’s soccer]team comes out of quarantine I think it will be close to the end of the month so that will leave us maybe just over three weeks to train,” said Scott. “We’ll get back to where we left off, we were just getting into some good stuff, tactical technical stuff as a team with our big group and we’re just going to pick up where we left off and finish the semester strong and on a positive note.”
The men’s soccer intrasquad scrimmage that was originally set for October 21 has been cancelled, however women’s soccer and field hockey are expected to take to their respective fields on October 22 for their own intrasquad scrimmages.
Claire Boughton can be contacted at: Tom Benoit can be contacted at: Tyler daRosa can be contacted at:
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