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Sarah Evenson '21 faces off against Bryn Mawr. Photo by Haverford College Athletics Department.

After a 13-Month Hiatus, Haverford Athletics Returns to Intercollegiate Competition

This past Saturday, April 24, marked Haverford’s first participation in intercollegiate athletics since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time Haverford’s Black Squirrels took to the pitch with another school was on March 14, 2020, when the baseball team won against Plymouth State, 11–8. Thirteen months later, intercollegiate play returned with the men’s and women’s track teams running in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Collegiate Invitational and the women’s tennis team squaring off in a match against Bryn Mawr. While originally planned for the same weekend, a women’s lacrosse game against Bryn Mawr was cancelled prior to play.

In terms of season openers, Haverford teams would have been hard pressed to top their performance on Saturday. Women’s tennis won handily against Bryn Mawr, posting a 9–0 final score. On the University of Pennsylvania’s historic Franklin Field, the men’s and women’s track teams made a strong showing against local Philadelphia competition. The highlight of this meet was the new school record by Ethan Gadra ’22 in the pole vault, earned through his vault of 14 feet, 11 inches.

These competitions marked just the start of Haverford Athletics’ spring schedule. Next weekend, men’s and women’s lacrosse as well as women’s softball will host Muhlenberg College at home on May 1. The following day, men’s and women’s tennis as well as baseball will also compete against Muhlenberg at home. These upcoming matches will be contingent on both Haverford’s and Muhlenberg’s ability to maintain low campus-wide positivity rates of COVID-19 up until the day of competition.

While only just starting out, Haverford’s return to intercollegiate athletics will be short-lived. The spring season of competition will likely be limited to the events conducted over this past weekend and those scheduled for next weekend. No further competitions will be allowed past May 2, meaning that Haverford teams will still not fully participate in Centennial Conference or national competition.

Throughout the 2020–21 academic year, the athletic department has been following a set of guidelines that outline the degree to which athletic practices can resemble those held pre-COVID. The Clerk requested a copy of these guidelines from the athletic department, but in the bustle created by the newly announced plans for intercollegiate play, they were unable to fulfill this request. The elusive guidelines are meant to progress throughout the semester if COVID cases on campus remain low, allowing for more and more contact between teammates and larger gatherings at practices. Currently, the athletic guidelines are in their most lenient stage, as evidenced by the arrival of intercollegiate play, the possibility of which did not seem likely at the beginning of this semester.

However, this unexpected opportunity for intercollegiate play will be accompanied by a mandatory campus quarantine for all athletes who participate in competition with teams outside the Bi-Co. The modified campus quarantine asks students to limit in-person contact and to not attend in-person classes or athletic practices. Students will also not be allowed to use indoor facilities, with the exceptions of the library, to collect library resources, and the Dining Center, to make use of the grab & go option. Quarantine will be lifted once students obtain a negative COVID test, the soonest opportunity for which will be on the Thursday following weekend competition. Even after receiving a negative test result, these students will not be allowed to visit Bryn Mawr for any reason for a period of ten days after competition.

Despite the mandatory quarantine upon return to campus, track athlete Charlie Ferguson ’23, who ran a new personal record of 3:59 in the 1500-meter race this past Saturday, said that after waiting over a year for the opportunity to compete, “the quarantine is an afterthought.”

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