By: Steven Blatto
After over seven months of confusion and uncertainty, fall athletics for Daemen finally returned to adjusted competition, beginning with women’s basketball Jan. 16. The typical practice and game schedules for these teams has been greatly adjusted, but athletes are determined to play.
For both men and women, the sports that returned included basketball, soccer, volleyball, and track and field. Basketball games began as early as January, while the rest started their games in March.
All teams must now experience shortened seasons. This has more effect on some teams compared to others. For example, the track and field schedule was shortened from seven meets to five meets. Soccer, on the other hand, went from an 18-game season (2019) to only six games, making their season two-thirds smaller than usual.
Although official and unofficial practices have been going on since August, these teams did not experience “normal” competition since either fall 2019 or early 2020. Over a year off may affect performance, but it may also boost motivation. Head coach of women’s soccer, Daniel Dolan discussed the boost in motivation that the pandemic caused.
“The spring is a little more hectic, but I give credit to the team for staying on top of their academics and staying motivated during a time like this,” Dolan said.
When it comes to spectators, a recent announcement made by Governor Cuomo allowed for home teams to allow for two fans per athlete on a small-scale level. These sports allow for 200 total fans in outdoor venues, with proof of a Covid-19 vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Livestreams have also been an effective alternative for fans who are still unable or uncomfortable to attend games. Even though the livestreams have always been an option, the viewer numbers for these streams have been bigger than ever before.
“The technology we have is amazing and makes the games accessible and easy to watch,” said head coach of women’s volleyball, Stephanie Albano.
“We had 800 views for our scrimmage in the fall,” she said, referring to the success that livestreaming has had since the pandemic started.
Coach Albano also wanted to give a brief shoutout to one of her athletes, senior Jen Heritz, for her motivation and drive to win throughout her final season with the volleyball team. She also mentioned the determination the team has to win is very high and has created a great team atmosphere.