NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

A shift in sports at NECC

Kids and teens in the United States always have at least one dream about what they want to do when they are older, some of these dreams are inspired overtime by what they do, what they watch, and what they grow up around. One of the most popular activities among youth is sports.

Young people from all over the country grow up in hopes of playing a particular sport when they are older, and some even look to work around the sports industry such as coaching, physio, management etc.

Throughout these past 12 months, however, we have faced a difficult situation that no one expected and out of our control, being the pandemic. From players whose developments have regressed, to coaches and management struggling to make a living, people in the sports industry have faced big setbacks due to this pandemic throughout the whole country.

What big effect has the pandemic had sports around the campus though?

Coaches from NECC in particular are hopeful about returning to their normal lives and believe the pandemic has been a major detriment to staff and students from all around NECC.

“It’s changed everything,” said Tim Foley, Cross Country Head Coach. “We had a fine team returning and half of the runners opted out so we didn’t have a team this past season.

“After this pandemic, I hope to see things return as close to what they were before but I envision a great deal of protocols being adjusted to keep any chance of something like this better controlled.”

It’s been a common theme for athletes around the school and also around the country to opt out of something they’ve desired to do for years.

Having a shortened team and limited options is one of the many changes that’s revolved around this pandemic life, and makes it harder for coaches, players, and staff to do their jobs.

“It has changed what we do, for several months it stopped us completely. Now we are back up and running but following a whole new set of guidelines and while safety has always been an important part of what we do, our COVID safety guidelines are regularly reviewed,” said Dan Blair, Head Director of Athletics at NECC .

“I think some of our coaches spend as much time or more preparing for COVID as they do preparing for a game or practice.”

Safety protocols is one of the many new features to the sports/COVID world.

It’s significant that preparations, stamina, and new set of rules all take time away from practices and build-up for important games.

“We’ve just begun a department wide testing program and are following guidelines of several national governing bodies and authorities to keep our students safe,” said Blaid. “We have a number of updated protocols that we began developing back in June and have been constantly tweaking them as we go and as new information is provided by the CDC and various sports governing bodies.”

In spite of following protocols being a distraction coaches like Blair, it’s a tool measured to ensure safety with everyone and with testings being widely provided to prevent COVID from worsening.

“I think some things many things will go back to normal, but I think a lot of how we are operating in the COVID environment will stick around. Some of it will be looked at sport by sport. Time will tell,” he said.