Even in the middle of a pandemic, the NCAA and Queens Athletics have stepped up to help their student-athletes regain the season they lost.
The NCAA made a promise to student-athletes whose spring 2020 competitions were canceled, allowing institutions to apply waivers for those athletes to return for an extra year of eligibility. This opportunity creates a big decision for student-athletes. It will also have ramifications for the Queens athletic program.
Any student whose season was interrupted will be eligible to return for another season, regardless of class standing. These were the sports affected: women’s tennis, men’s tennis, men’s lacrosse, women’s track, softball, baseball, women’s rugby, men’s rugby, men’s golf and swimming. Students who choose to return for their extra eligible year must also be enrolled in full-time classes.
“The biggest thing that I’ve been focusing on is if it will be beneficial in the long run,” said Chase Brokaw, a senior on the women’s lacrosse team. “Since I’m graduating, I want to make sure the extra time in school would make sense for me. Other aspects I think about are how it would impact the team, and would it be good for me mentally to take another year?”
Queens Director of Athletics Cherie Swarthout said that the extra year of eligibility impacts the program in several ways.
“I think in the immediate future I can see us having elevated rosters,” Swarthout said. “It may have an impact on future recruiting classes. Meaning we may not need as many incoming freshmen or transfers. There is quite a bit left to be determined, that is for sure.”
The cancellation of the spring season derailed several positive developments for Queens Athletics. Women’s lacrosse opened with a 5-0 record and were vying for a championship appearance.
“Our team was confident we would make it back to the Final Four, and at the rate we were going it looked possible,” said Brokaw. “I feel very lucky to be on the team I am because, in the 48 hours of finding out (the season was canceled), the team got together and put together a Senior Day for us. That was one of those things that made it easier to say goodbye.”
Several students who were attempting to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have had their dreams postponed a year. But at least one student had already qualified for the Paralympics, which will be held at the same time.
Veteran Paralympian Hannah Aspden is a Queens sophomore with impressive swimming accolades. In the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, she won two bronze medals. In 2017, Aspden won one gold medal and one silver medal at the World Championships. She also competes on the Queens Swim team.
“I’m very grateful to still be having the games and getting a shot at representing Team USA again (at the Paralympics),” Aspden said. “For a while, there was a lot of uncertainty and worry, but now they have set official dates and are working on a plan for this next year, so I’m feeling much better about everything moving forward.”
The way Aspden sees it, her goals are the same.
“New track,” she said, “same target.”