Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer
Hampton University student-athletes have faced a fair amount of adversity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the cancellation of all 2021 spring sports, HU spring athletes have now forgone two consecutive seasons.
“I was on vacation to hang out with my parents and my friends. We were on Zoom, and we found out we weren’t playing. We were devastated,” junior softball standout Jenae Lyles said when she found out that Hampton was canceling 2021 spring sports.
In October 2020, Hampton University announced the cancellation of the 2021 spring sports seasons. This decision affected track and field, sailing, softball, tennis, triathlon and lacrosse.
Lyles was a member of the 2019-20 softball team that had their season cut short due to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, they were not able to finish their season and ended with a record of 15-4.
Hampton University sophomore tennis player Laura Peralta learned a lot about herself since HU’s cancellation of spring sports.
“The thing I learned about myself is that I can do anything, but having two jobs is hard. I had to learn how to do time management,” Peralta said.
The university has not allowed students on campus since March 2020. The school’s decision to continue virtual learning during the spring semester led to the decision to cancel the 2021 spring sports season. The only HU teams to compete this academic year have been men’s and women’s basketball.
“[I’ve] been trying to keep up with my training,” junior track and field thrower Nicholas Edwards said. “There are people in the conference that are getting better, and I am at home.”
Hampton track and field won both the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field titles in their first year in the Big South Conference in 2019. Looking to build upon their momentum, HU track and field suffered from yet another season of cancellations due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these athletes have not played in 11 months and are eager to compete.
“ [I’m] going hard for practice. Not taking hard workouts for granted. Not taking any meet for granted,” senior hurdler Dylan Beard said. “I just want to run my race and be the best at it.”
Even though spring sports are not playing, there is good news to share. The Hampton men’s lacrosse team is joining a conference for the first time. Hampton will be a member of the Southern Conference on July 1. The Pirates are the first men’s HBCU program to join the Southern Conference. They are expected to play in the Spring 2022 season.
According to ESPN, the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow student-athletes to have an extra year of eligibility when seasons were canceled. The NCAA will extend the eligibility to all spring student-athletes, not just seniors. It will allow schools to expand their rosters beyond current limits of scholarships to account for future recruits and seniors who were expected to graduate.
This may be an opportunity for spring student-athletes at Hampton to consider an extra year of eligibility. That decision will have to be made by them, but it gives these men and women an opportunity to finish what they started.