On March 5, 2021, the Centennial Conference announced that they would continue with a modified spring season starting March 20, 2021. The season includes conference matchups for baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.
In their announcement, the conference stated that “each member institution retains autonomy over the decision as to whether or not to participate in athletics this spring” and cited “protocols for testing, travel, and game management standards that exceed the NCAA guidelines for spring sports.”
Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr College all made the difficult decision to not participate in this abbreviated spring season due to the health risks to their campus communities. “There are a number of factors that led to Swarthmore’s decision to not participate this spring, but they all point to the same priority — minimizing the spread of COVID-19 on campus and doing what we can to keep our students, faculty, and staff members healthy and safe,” said Interim Athletic Director and Head Lacrosse Coach Karen Borbee.
Furthermore, due to the limited number of students invited back to Swarthmore’s campus this spring, full team sport participation was not viable according to Borbee.
“In addition to the prohibition on college travel and allowing visitors on campus, which would make it impossible to host or travel, our ability to provide campus housing, including the need for isolation and quarantine housing, means only about half of our student body living on campus this semester,” she said. With a smaller number of students invited back to campus, many teams only have a small fraction of their players actually present at Swarthmore, making any chance at interleague competition impossible.
While Swarthmore’s decision was not unexpected, it was still disappointing to many spring athletes who will be missing their second consecutive season, particularly those seniors who will graduate with only memories of full seasons their first and second year at Swat.
That being said, women’s lacrosse player Ellie Miller ’22 was happy that the Centennial Conference as a whole was restarting play. “I’m happy for the student athletes at the other centennial conference schools that they get the opportunity to play their sport,” said Miller.
Although Swarthmore athletes do not have the chance this season to play against league opponents, the school has entered phase four of the athletics COVID-19 guidelines. Teams are now allowed to engage in contact play — an exciting development for many players who have only been able to participate in socially distanced iterations of their sport since March 2020. “After an entire summer and semester of no contact and extreme limitations I’m finally starting to feel like a soccer player again,” said first year women’s soccer player Dani Kaufman-Sedano.
Knowing that most Centennial Conference schools chose to move forward with the abbreviated season while Swarthmore elected to opt out was challenging for many spring athletes. With vaccine rollout continuing to ramp up and President Valerie Smith’s promising message earlier this semester looking towards the upcoming academic year, however, the opportunity for Swarthmore student-athletes to restart competition seems close. In the meantime, student-athletes on campus will continue to practice and train in preparation for the Fall season, with the hopes of representing the Garnet on the field.