Club sports look forward to competition this academic year


Photo contributed by Owen Jacobsen

The Allegheny Hellbenders pose during their May 2021 High Tide Tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC. Pictured here, the team is carrying Jordan Wang, an opposing player from Stevens Institute of Technology

After a full academic year without competition and limited practice time, Allegheny club sports are beginning to look forward to resuming their activities. The college’s revised protocols will allow for these club sports teams to practice all together.

Because of the vast safety restrictions in place last year from the COVID-19 pandemic, club sports were forced to practice in small groups. Many teams even relocated practices because of the added health risks of competing inside.

“When we came back in the spring (last year) we would practice outside, but when regulation started to loosen a little bit, we moved back into the Wise Center dance studio which is our formal place to practice,” said Fencing Club Secretary Mary Rose Dosch ’23. “But it took a long time for us to actually group together and actually fence.”

While being able to practice was a major issue for club sports teams, another challenge last year was intercollegiate competition because of protocols handed down from each club sports organization. As members of USA Fencing, the fencing team was unable to compete in national, regional or local competitions.

As of Aug. 26, USA Fencing announced that they would have a full season, including all three levels of competition this year. The announcement of the season was followed by a list of rules related to the spread of COVID-19 in order to keep all participants safe throughout competitions this season.

“In addition to the USA fencing mask mandate, local, divisional and regional tournament directors must follow local and state COVID regulations, guidelines and restrictions,” said USAF Senior Director of Operations Christy Strong Simmons in a statement published on the USA Fencing website.

Another club looking forward to competition is the ultimate frisbee team. After being deemed a high-risk sport by the ACHA last academic year, none of Allegheny’s ultimate frisbee teams were able to compete or practice all together as a team.

Allegheny’s ultimate frisbee teams compete under USA Ultimate —  the governing body of college Ultimate frisbee —  which also did not allow for competition in 2020-21. Much like USAF, USAU has plans to go through with competition during 2021-22 with health and safety protocols.

By putting these rules into place, USAU hopes to stick true to their statement made at the beginning of the pandemic to keep all participants safe and healthy.

“As stated many times since the beginning of the pandemic, the health, safety and well-being of USA Ultimate’s members and the greater ultimate community stands alone as the organizations top priority,” USA Ultimate stated in their return-to-play statement.

As of now, USAU plans to begin the season as a continuation of last spring, with 2020 national competitions taking place in the fall this year. After the fall season is complete, USAU hopes to get back on track and complete the 2021 season in the spring.

Because of this, Allegheny’s ultimate frisbee teams have a busy schedule ahead of them, as they hope to become the first Allegheny ultimate teams to reach the national tournament in December. In the meantime, the teams have already begun scheduling regional tournaments in order to hopefully qualify for sectionals, and nationals beyond that.

“We have three tournaments scheduled and potentially a fourth,” said captain of the men’s and mixed ultimate frisbee teams Owen Jacobsen ’23. “Last spring basically all national competition was canceled, tournaments were canceled, so they’re holding them this fall.”

Unlike the ultimate frisbee and fencing clubs, the Allegheny club volleyball team does not  compete under an umbrella organization and relies on Allegheny’s approval to schedule matches. Although they were able to practice last year, the volleyball club was unable to compete because of the regulations and limited membership.

As regulations were lifted this year, the volleyball club hopes to be able to play matches against other schools, especially after jumping from around 10 members to almost 30 in a year.

“The biggest perk right now is that we have so many people that it’s essentially impossible for us not to play against other schools because we have the numbers,” said club volleyball player Austin Reardon ’23.

The biggest perk right now is that we have so many people that it’s essentially impossible for us not to play against other schools because we have the numbers.

— Austin Reardon '23, Allegheny Club Volleyball

This season will be the first for first-year students, but because of the inability to compete last year, second-year students will also be participating in their first competitions with their respective club teams. This infusion of fresh faces on the playing field is something that upperclassmen on the team have been really excited about.

“We’ve had a pretty high turnout this semester and a lot of that is freshmen or people who are otherwise new to frisbee,” said Jacobsen. “So I think people are really excited to play in their first tournament or to just get back onto the field.”