Lafayette athletics suffers its first COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 safety protocols affected both the men’s and women’s tennis teams this past week. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Zovko)

During the first three months of returning to competition, Lafayette athletics managed to survive all Patriot League COVID-19 outbreaks without one of their own. Their luck changed this past week as the women’s tennis team was the first to face the spread of the virus. 

After a 7-0 sweep of Coppin State to win their first match of the season, the team returned to campus with the news of a positive case in their ranks. 

As a result of the outbreak, the team’s next match, which was scheduled for Feb. 27 against Union College, was canceled. Players who were in contact with the player who tested positive were also put in isolation until this past Wednesday.  

“So far we are still in pretty good shape in terms of the schedule,” senior captain Cece Lesnick said. “Coach Van Ormer has done a tremendous job putting together a wide variety of events for us while ensuring we are safe and limiting our exposure.” 

The Leopards season was off to a hot start, but the team will have to manage their way through this sudden hurdle. 

“We are going to treat every practice and match like it is our last,” said senior captain Sammi Snyder. “Coming back from this break, I think we’re all going to work extra hard to make the time count. After our season got cut short last year, we all want to work hard and have fun playing the sport we love while we can.” 

What remains to be seen is how the team handles the unpredictability of schedule adjustments mentally.  This unique aspect of the current collegiate sports environment will test a team’s ability to remain focused. The importance of focus is part of all sports and competition, but the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the stakes of mental fortitude. 

In addition, several athletes have remarked on the importance of maintaining a positive attitude during the pandemic and remaining thankful for the opportunity to compete when the opportunity arises.

“I feel very hopeful about our return to matches,” Lesnick said. “With so much of the team in quarantine it might take a week or so to get back on track. But, by checking in on all the girls, I can tell that they are more eager and motivated by not being able to play.”

“By continuing to follow school guidelines and by doing our part, I know that we will all be able to get back out on the courts soon.”

The women’s tennis team will resume their out-of-conference matches this Sunday against Delaware State at 3 p.m. The Leopards’ first Patriot League matchup will be the following Saturday at Bucknell at 12 p.m. 

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