Student-athletes living on campus began sport-specific training Monday as Harvard Athletics entered the next phase of bringing Crimson sports back to Cambridge amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During Phase Two of the plan, athletes can participate in workouts specific to their sport for up to two hours each day. Still, they must maintain proper social distancing, wear masks, and congregate only in groups of up to ten people, College spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an email.
For the first month of the semester, Harvard did not offer any organized athletics activity to students on campus. Phase One, which began last week, allowed athletes to participate in organized strength and conditioning workouts with their teammates.
Women’s ice hockey player Rose I. O’Connor ’24 took to the ice on Monday for the first time as a Harvard athlete. She and her only fellow teammate on campus — also a freshman — suited up in equipment and had the rink all to themselves.
“We were the first two to step on it. Stepping on a new sheet of ice is so nice — it’s really crisp. You can hear all your edges cutting, too,” she said. “It was definitely special, just like the two of us being there.”
O’Connor, who said she considered taking a gap year, said she was grateful that Harvard made an effort to allow athletes to practice their sport while on campus.
“I would have been really, really bummed if we couldn’t skate or do anything for this year,” she said. “It would have just felt like a year missing sports.”
Prashanth “PK” Kumar ’21, who manages the men’s tennis team, said he and his teammates were grateful to return to Beren Tennis Center on Monday to go through drills and rally with each other.
“Part of our team culture is being grateful for what we have,” Kumar said. “Not every sport is allowed to do their full activity or whatever because — imagine like wrestling or other sports where you have to be in close contact with other people — they’re not allowed to do that.”
Harvard Athletics spokesperson Timothy J. Williamson wrote in an email that he believes the University is unlikely to further lift restrictions on athletics activity. Phase Three, which lifts restrictions on social distancing and groups, runs counter to College-wide policies.
—Staff Writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.