Georgetown University’s baseball team players have organized student-run practices after the university did not clear them because of COVID-19 precautions.
Georgetown is the only school in the Big East that has not cleared its baseball team to compete this season. The university has not yet decided whether the baseball team will be permitted to compete in the spring 2021 season, which is scheduled to start Feb. 19, according to a university spokesperson.
Although the team cannot hold official practices on campus, the baseball team has continued training on their own by ensuring adherence to strict social distancing guidelines, according to infielder Nolan Matsko (MSB ’22).
“Each player was given the opportunity to opt-out of these player-led workouts, but an overwhelming majority wanted to secure off-campus housing so we can safely practice together as a team,” Matsko wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Each practice has a specific plan that is strategically designed to allow players to maintain social distancing protocols.”
In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the team is requiring that players participating in practices cannot dine indoors or carpool with people who are unmasked or live outside their households. Players are also prohibited from interacting with individuals who do not adhere to similar standards of social distancing, according to Matsko.
“Disregard for these protocols will result in a player not being able to participate in these practices,” Matsko wrote. “We want to create an environment that is safe for the whole Georgetown community.”
Team members have found the inability to hold official practices frustrating, especially given other schools’ successes in playing safely, according to Matsko.
“It’s difficult seeing every other team in the Big East conference and our neighbors, George Washington, able to practice, but we are extremely hopeful that we will soon get an opportunity to play together soon,” Matsko wrote.
George Washington University, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which regionalized and shortened the baseball season’s schedule, is continuing with spring play.
Georgetown invited all other Big East teams, including both men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, lacrosse and track and field, to live, practice and compete on campus this spring.
Many Georgetown baseball players are confused as to why their team was not included with those that were invited back this semester, according to outfielder AJ Lotsis (GRD ’22).
“The most difficult thing to grasp about the decision is not why we weren’t able to return instead of lacrosse and soccer, but why we could not return to playing along with those other sports,” Lotsis wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Final decisions about spring sports will be made only after more information about the pandemic is available, according to a university spokesperson.
“Until a number of important variables become more defined, Georgetown cannot state its final plan for the spring sports that are now on hold. The options will vary by sport and could range from no return to practice and workouts to return to full competition,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Our decisions around athletics are, and will continue to be, driven by public health conditions and our responsibility to keep our community safe.”
Two hundred seventy-nine Georgetown community members have tested positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 3, and 33 tested positive the week of Feb. 7-13, a decrease from the previous two weeks. Cases in the greater Washington, D.C. region have declined in recent weeks from a peak the week of Jan. 12.
Edwin Thompson, who was appointed head coach of the baseball program this past September, supports the university’s decisions and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s affected everybody. No matter how you want to look at it, our leadership and our university are making all the necessary decisions to make sure that we are safe,” Thompson said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya. “Obviously, they have everything planned out. They want all the students back. They want everyone back. We all do.”
Despite facing COVID-19 restrictions, the baseball team plans to keep up their hard work, according to Thompson.
“We want to get back out and compete in everything that we do,” Thompson said. “We’re never going to let our circumstances dictate our goals. Our goals are always going to stay consistent. We want to make sure that our team is unbelievably competitive, every game.”
Players remain optimistic about the future of the team and the possibility of spring play and are working to prepare for the season, according to Lotsis.
“I believe that the sacrifices that each player has committed to practice on our own will hopefully show the University how committed we are to having a season,” Lotsis wrote. “We are willing to do whatever it takes to have a season.”