As coronavirus plagued the athletics in the fall and continues to rage within the United States into the spring, many wondered if a season was possible. Athletic Director Keith Buckley continued to stand by his promise of pushing for sports this spring while making sure athlete safety was of the utmost importance. As players take the court or field, it won’t be without restrictions or changes in schedules that are much different than previous seasons.
For fall and winter sports, the NWC will allow schools to only play other schools within their states. Meaning, Pacific could only play George Fox, Lewis & Clark, Linfield, and Willamette. With that being said, Lewis & Clark and Willamette have opted out of the football and men’s and women’s basketball seasons.
While these sports can only play Oregon schools, there is a chance for them to play the other NWC schools in a conference tournament. The playing of this tournament has not yet been scheduled due to the conference monitoring COVID-19. On top of this, the NCAA has officially canceled all Division III fall sports national championships for the 2020-21 academic year.
In the midst of a chaotic spring season, the Northwest Conference put out a statement saying, “The NWC schedules can be changed or canceled at any time as we continue to monitor and work within local, state, and federal health directives.” The conference has promised to provide updates through the website and social media on any additional changes to the season.
The first sport to officially resume gameplay will be swimming, which will host a dual meet with George Fox University, Saturday, February 6. Sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball will start their respective seasons in February as well. Spring sports will begin in March with men’s and women’s tennis starting March 6.
One of the more notable changes for the 2021 spring season is no fans. Due to COVID-19 and to help prevent the spread of the virus, the NWC will not allow fans to attend any games.
This season will be different, but the main goal for the conference and for athletes was to have a season, and as of now that is happening. Teams will play and sports are back, but with the unpredictability of COVID-19 and the health and safety of athletes the top priority, anything could happen. — Joey Balleweg
Photo: Unlike the fall season, the Stoller Center will have life once again, as sports resume in the spring (Julien Dagan)