With fall sports canceled, some local Williams College athletes plan on sitting out the year while others return
It will be a quiet fall on the campus of Williams College, as the school announced last month that there would not be a fall season for intercollegiate sports.
Which leaves open a question: What do those fall sport athletes do?
Williams, in a detailed letter from college president Maud Mandel, has given students options. Athletes and non-athletes alike, in the sophomore, junior and senior classes, will be permitted to take a "personal leave." Incoming first-year students and incoming transfer students may opt, the college said, to take a gap year and return to Williamstown in the fall of 2021.
"I'm going to take the [fall] semester off," said Williamstown native and Mount Greylock graduate Brady Foehl, a member of the Williams men's soccer team.
"For one, the obvious reason is there's no soccer season, which is an enjoyable part of my college experience. My closest friends are on the soccer team, and they're thinking the same thing," the rising junior said. "They're not going to be there either, which is more incentive for me to not go back."
Williams is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. On Friday, the NESCAC presidents announced a unanimous decision, that there would not be fall sports. Other regional rivals like RPI, MIT, Smith, Wellesley and UMass-Boston, have cancelled their fall seasons, as did the Division I Ivy League.
All Williams students had until Friday to decide their plans for the fall semester and the 2020-21 school year.
"It definitely won't be the same, obviously, that I'm used to," Foehl said. "Giving up this fall and getting the fall in two years will be, hopefully, a better semester than this upcoming one would be. I think I can fill my time this semester so I can make it worthwhile."
Ilana Albert of Pittsfield, whose junior season in women's soccer was cut short by a knee injury, has made the opposite decision. Albert said she'll be going back for her senior year in September. The former Pittsfield High School girls soccer standout called it a tough decision.
"I really wanted to graduate on time. I have kind of a vision for what my next five years will look like. Obviously, there's no way to know," she said. "I really enjoy taking the classes that I'm taking. I didn't really want to take time off and find something else to do for the year. I'm really comfortable at Williams and the classes they have to offer."
Albert played for Eph teams that won NCAA Division III championships in 2017 and 2018. Four games into the 2019 season, a year where Williams reached the Elite Eight, a serious knee injury derailed Albert's season.
"Obviously, I missed my season last year too," she said. "It was a really difficult decision, but almost missing last year soccer-wise kind of showed me that I have a life outside of soccer that I can really buy into. It gave me a little bit more faith that I could still succeed even if soccer, which has been such a huge part of my life, isn't going to be as much a part of it any more."
In two-plus seasons, Albert played in 51 games and started 29. She scored a goal and had five assists.
Bobby Maimaron, the Ephs' starting quarterback since he first took to Farley-Lamb Field as a first-year, will be joining Foehl in taking the fall semester off.
"I'm definitely going to take some time off, whether it's a semester or for the full year, I'm not really sure yet," Maimaron said, when reached at his Duxbury home. "I definitely am going to take the year off, so I can play one more year for Coach [Mark] Raymond and everyone else. Honestly, I think a lot of guys on the team have kind of made the decision with school and all the restrictions that are going to be in school and elsewhere on campus, that it might not be worth it to go back."
Maimaron said that he didn't have an exact number, but he said that a number of the rising seniors on the Williams roster will take the fall off.
In three years at Williams, Maimaron has helped lead Raymond's Ephs to three straight winning seasons. That hadn't happened at Williams since the 2009-11 seasons.
Maimaron also has thrown for 4,410 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons. The 40 touchdowns are five behind Pat Moffitt's school-record 45 touchdown passes. Maimaron threw five TD passes in 2019 in a win over Hamilton, tying a school record.
"You definitely want to play another year, but it's kind of hard to maybe put off some jobs, working, graduation, all of that," Maimaron said, "graduating with your full class. After [Williams] came out with all the rules at school, it kind of made it a little bit easier to say I don't know if I want to be at school this fall."
Another rising senior on the women's soccer team, Manchester, Vt. native Georgia Lord, said that not only will she take the fall off, but is considering taking the school year off and returning for her junior year in 2021. She said the rising seniors are split between taking the fall off. Lord said that fellow rising seniors Aspen Pierson, Victoria Laino and Mikayla Kappes were leaning toward not going in the fall.
"It's just a hard situation to be in," Lord said. "I don't think I'm losing anything taking some time off. I think I'm only gaining, hopefully, more experience in the job world."
Lord played in 61 games over her first three seasons and started 38. She has seven goals and five assists, with three game-winning goals.
While agreeing with her teammate and the other Eph athletes that this was not an easy decision, the Vermont native said she thought that, in the long run, it was for the best.
"I think that the full Williams experience is something that I value a lot," Lord said. "It doesn't seem like I'll be able to get that this fall, or this year, because there are so many restrictions on what you can do. Not having a season and not being able to play with my teammates one more time, was a hard pill to swallow.
"I'm not as much in a rush to get out of college, just because I'm a little bit on the younger side of my class anyways. I definitely want one more season, or a year with my teammates and my friends at Williams."
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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