Club sports working to return to practice this spring

Although no concrete plans are in place for Allegheny’s club sports to compete this spring season, club teams are optimistic that they will return to play by next fall at the latest. In the meantime, officials from each club team are working tirelessly to reserve practice time and possibly schedule scrimmages, all the while juggling COVID-19 regulations set by the Allegheny College Health Agency.

Each club sport at Allegheny competes in their own athletic leagues, seperate from the NCAA teams that all compete within the NCAC. Each of these athletic leagues is tasked with deciding if and when they plan to return to play as well as constructing new guidelines for player safety in terms of COVID-19.

“The College Hockey East was not allowing a season, so in the fall we didn’t really have any practice or games,” said hockey team member Harley O’Brachta, ’23.

Because the College Hockey East’s schedule runs from the end of fall until just before spring begins, the hockey club will not be able to play a full regular season this year. Nevertheless, the team feels strongly about giving their seniors a great last season and they are currently working on options to play at least a few games this spring.

“Right now it’s all in the works, we’re trying to see what we can do,” O’Brachta said. “I know some of the guys are trying to secure some ice time to practice and if possible talk to some other colleges that are in our league.”

Another club which has been affected by their leagues decision on its spring season is the Ultimate Frisbee team. As members of USA Ultimate — the governing body for the sport of ultimate frisbee in the United States — the ultimate team at Allegheny is forced to look forward to next year when competition will resume.

“USAU has effectively just canceled the spring season,” said Sophie Adams, ’22, a member of the leadership board for the ultimate frisbee team. “But they’re going full steam ahead with next fall season.”

For juniors on club teams like Adams, there is too much at stake to play a few scrimmages this season. With close contact sports like ultimate frisbee, the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 increases, deeming ultimate as a high-risk sport. Due to the guidelines set by ACHA, no high-risk sports have been able to participate in games this season, leaving the ultimate team searching for possible routes to take this spring.

“If Grove City or Edinboro (asked) for a (scrimmage), I just don’t think that ACHA would give us the green light quite yet,” Adams said. “

Next year will be my senior year and there’s too much to lose; playing one hour is just not worth it.

— Sophie Adams, Class of 2022


While the hockey and ultimate frisbee teams at Allegheny rely on their leagues to resume competition, the cheerleading club is unique in that their events depend on the schools NCAA teams. More specifically, the cheerleading team performs at football and basketball games, two high-risk sports that will not allow non-essential attendees.

Despite not being able to perform at any events this year, the cheerleading team is currently working to secure gym time to practice, while considering the recent spike in COVID-19 cases on campus because cheerleading would also be considered a high-risk sport by ACHA. Their practices will have to consist of functional groups of 10 or fewer; but this time would be extremely beneficial, especially for first-year students who have not been able to perform stunts with the team yet.

“We’re basically just going to be preparing our material for football season next year” said Emily Jones, ’22, co-head captain on the cheerleading team.

They are still unsure on how much they will be able to do once their practices begin, but the cheerleading team is optimistic that they will eventually be able to practice as a complete group. They have been afforded the opportunity to be together as a team as long as they practice outside and remain socially distant in areas designated by the school. They also have a coach that must act as an advisor at all team events in accordance with  ACHA.

“We weren’t as affected because our coach normally comes to our practices so that’s going to be our advisor,” Jones said. “But other clubs have to get an advisor or have an advisor present so that might affect the clubs.”

While in years past many clubs would hold captains practices without a coach present, a coach is now necessary for these club teams to play. However, for Allegheny club teams, this is the least of their worries, as these teams are more focused on the opportunity to compete next year, more eager than ever.

“I think we’re gonna come out of this stronger as a team,” Adams said. “And I think every team is going to be like that and it’s going to be really fun to play against some really competitive teams.”