COVID-19 brings UB club sports to a standstill

Club sports are "on pause" during pandemic

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With COVID-19 postponing sports around the U.S., it’s no surprise that UB’s club sports have been affected as well.

Although club seasons are not deemed “canceled” , they are said to be “on pause” for the moment and have little to no direction from the university. Clubs such as men’s lacrosse, baseball and women’s volleyball are some of the teams that aren’t getting a solid statement from the higher ups. Due to lack of communication, clubs have not been able hold meetings, access their budget and have had to delay recruiting. Clubs will remain on pause for the foreseeable future or until SA gives them the go ahead to play, or the SA declares the conditions are not suitable for athletes to take the field. 

Justin Petsos, senior and president of the lacrosse club, said the university held two virtual club involvement fairs, one being this past weekend on August 29th, for clubs to try and recruit.

The fairs didn’t go as planned.

“We did one in July with incoming freshmen at their online orientation and another was held this past saturday,” Pestos said. “There were only one or two (participants) at each but I am not sure how much the school has promoted (the involvement fairs) or how easy it is to access from a student standpoint.” 

Afoma Ezeilo, a junior and women’s club volleyball president put it simply, “We will most likely not play this semester.”

“The communication has been limited between volleyball and the university which is caused by the ever changing news we get about COVID,” said Ezelio

Pestos said that COVID-19 has brought multiple issues to the team.

“We can’t access our budget and we can't hold any meetings because lacrosse is considered a high risk sport due to the contact,” said Pestos

Baseball and women’s volleyball are having the same issues as well. 

Former vice president of baseball, senior Vince Alongi, is frustrated with the virus’ effect on his senior season.

“It’s the last time I’ll ever get to be a part of a great team and play competitive baseball. The group of guys we have are really special and they are some of my best friends at UB.” said Alongi.

Not only have these clubs had problems attempting to connect and play their seasons, but getting new players and recruiting the incoming freshman has been a circus in itself. 

“Recruiting is kind of impossible because we usually have a club fair where we usually get like 30 to 40 names,” Alongi said.“We then send out emails and then like only half of those guys come to try out. So it's going to be a lot harder to get new players to play.”

Alongi said they had to delay tryouts by at least two weeks because they are trying to find a way to incorporate social distancing.

 “We usually have tryouts this week but we are pushing them back a week or two so we can figure out a way to do it while socially distancing.”

For club baseball, recruitment isn’t the only problem the team faces when trying to expand their roster size.

Recently, returning players have decided to forgo the 2020-21 campaign. 

“We have a couple guys that say they're taking the semester off because of COVID so they’re not coming back for this season,” said Alongi

He said if a season does get played, they may have to cut their roster size anyway. 

Alongi, Petsos and Ezeilo all stated that because club sports are on “pause” they do not have access to their budget at the moment, making it hard to plan for a possible season. 

For all of these members, besides taking the field and playing, they just want to reconnect with their teammates. 

“We usually play two thirds of our season in the fall. So, like right now we'd all be getting back together, going to the cages and seeing all the guys in the summer, and then meeting all the new freshmen,” Alongi said. “The team aspect is kind of gone because everyone's on their own and no one is in person.” 

Ezeilo similarly stated that not playing this year would be “disappointing” because the team has been separated for five months due to the campus shutdown in late March in addition to summer break.

Robby Salisbury is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at robby.salisbury@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @SalisburyRobby.