It is never easy to cancel a sports season. MCLA athletic director Laura Mooney said canceling the Spring, 2021 season was exceptionally difficult.
“I would say it was almost worse this time,” Mooney said. “It’s been such a challenging year because I’ve had to tell people no so many times. We had the announcement about the fall and then we had the announcement about the winter. In spring, we were looking forward, and now we kind of had to go back on that.
“I think because there was so much hope, and it felt that much more real that we were going to get the season in, that it was that much more disappointing that we were not going to be able to do so.”
The school was forced to put an end to spring sports because, as of April 1, it was announced by college president James F. Birge that the school was going into full remote education as of April 5. With students gone from campus, that made it impossible to continue with the spring sports season.
It was not even a month ago, back on March 12, when the MASCAC Council of Presidents and conference commissioner Angela Baumann announced that the conference would have spring sports.
MCLA was ready to play in MASCAC-sponsored baseball and softball competition. The conference had scheduled weekend series between conference foes. For example, if baseball hosted a doubleheader on Friday, it would travel for a Saturday doubleheader. Softball would have done the opposite.
In addition, the men’s lacrosse team was going to play a divisional schedule in the North Atlantic Conference, where the Trailblazers play. That is because MASCAC does not sponsor men’s lacrosse as a sport.
MCLA had been 0-2 in baseball and softball, and 1-0 in men’s lacrosse — the nascent program’s first-ever win — when the curtain came down prematurely on the season.
Mooney said different teams received word of the cancelation of the season in different ways.
“I met with our staff as soon as we had the official word. We met via virtual call. It was really difficult,” she said. “Those conversations are really hard to have in the virtual format instead of together, which is where you all want to be. Some coaches did the virtual calls. Some were able to get together with [their players].”
The athletic director said that the initial notification came with the college-wide announcement that MCLA was moving to full remote academic status.
“The college, more or less, broke the news,” Mooney said.
Student-athletes at NCAA schools were granted an additional year of eligibility because of issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Mooney said that a few of the MCLA spring sport athletes might take advantage, but others will move on.
“I think there will be a few students that will come back that are definitely interested in utilizing that extra year of eligibility,” she said. “We have lots of seniors who already have jobs and everything lined up.”