Sports Competition Returns to Albion’s Campus

Peyton Smith, a sophomore outside hitter on Albion’s volleyball team, goblet squats with a kettle ball during team lift. The volleyball team would usually lift as a team, but because of limited space in the weight room, they lift in groups of four or five (Photo courtesy of Grace VanDorn).

After almost a full year, with a fall semester limited to intrasquad scrimmages and meets, all twenty-three Albion sports are back competing against other MIAA schools. 

The MIAA is not allowing spectators to basketball, swim or track events until at least Feb. 11. Spectators for football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis and golf will be determined at a later date. 

The Albion community can still watch the Briton’s play with a live stream of events at gobrits.com

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team kicked off their season on Jan. 23 against Adrian, where they pulled out a 95-60 win. Caden Ebeling, a senior from Shelby Township, made history during this game. He became the twenty-second player to reach the 1,000 point mark, only 46 seconds into the game. 

One week later, they defeated Olivet. The Brits currently sit at 2-1 overall after the loss at home to Hope on Feb. 1. 

The men’s team still has the majority of their season to play with nine games of conference play left before the postseason. 

Women’s Basketball

The women’s basketball team has played three games so far this season, with one game on Jan. 30 against St. Mary’s being cancelled. According to their schedule on gobrits, both games against St. Mary’s have been cancelled.  

The Briton women fell short during the season opener at Hope and during their second game at Alma. 

However, when they played Alma again for their first game at home, the Brits won 86-72. Senior Rain Hinton scored 26 points and sophomore Elena Welker was right behind her with 21 points. The women play again at home for their first game against the Adrian Bulldogs on Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. 

Like the men’s basketball team, they still have the majority of their season to play with eleven games of conference play before the postseason. 

Swim and Dive

The Albion swim and dive team started their season on Jan. 23 at Calvin. The Knights beat both the men’s team, 167-69, and the women’s team, 151-87. 

The teams traveled to Hope College on Jan. 29, where both the men’s and women’s teams defeated Olivet but fell to Hope. 

The swim and dive season is usually longer, and they start training during the fall semester. But because of COVID-19, they had unforeseen breaks during the time they’d usually be swimming. The swim and dive team was only on campus six days before their first meet at Calvin after a long winter break. 

Albion swim and dive will not be hosting meets at the Dean Aquatic Center any time this season. 

Last year the men’s team won the MIAA championship for the third time in four years. This year, the women’s team will be traveling to the MIAA tournament on Feb. 26, which is only three weeks away, while the men’s team competes on March 5. 

Their next tri-meet is on Feb. 13 at Calvin, the last meet on schedule until the MIAA Championship. 

Track and Field 

The track and field teams at Albion were another sport to get their 2020 season taken away from them. Like swim and dive, their season is usually longer with outdoor events taking place right after indoor season ends in late February. 

Last year, the team competed in the indoor MIAA championship, with Cullen Cox and Kejuan Frazier being the only two event winners. The indoor MIAA championship was one of the last meets the team got to compete in before COVID-19 sent college students across the country home. 

Cullen Cox was a qualifier for the 400m and was going to run in North Carolina for the Indoor NCAA Division III National Championship in the early spring of 2020, but never got to run due to being sent home because of COVID-19. 

In the past, the schedule for track and field has been lengthy, traveling to many meets out of state and competing against teams outside of the MIAA. Gobrits.com has only five meets scheduled for the Brits, all of which being inside the MIAA. 

The track and field teams start their indoor season this Friday at Trine University. 

Football

Traditionally a fall sport, Albion football will be playing their 2020-2021 season in the spring. In the 2019 season, the Brits were 8-2 overall, only losing once at home. 

Gobrits.com has listed the Albion football team starting their season away at Trine on March 20, with a time that has yet to be announced.

Volleyball

It’s been over a year since the Albion volleyball team has played in a MIAA conference game. They usually play in the fall, but due to COVID-19 protocols, their 2020 season has been postponed until March 2021. 

During the fall semester, the team had a “purple versus gold” intrasquad scrimmage that was streamed for the Albion community to watch. 

The team starts practice at the end of February and is currently lifting and conditioning alongside coach Mehl in preparation for the upcoming season. 

The team follows all COVID-19 policies given to them by the college. Ava Smith, the junior setter from Wabash, Ind., says her coach emphasizes the importance to “think positive, test negative.”

The season starts at home on March 19 against Kalamazoo without spectators. 

“Hopefully something could change with this in the future but for now we will miss seeing Kresge packed and cheering us on,” said Smith. “We bring so much energy to our practices and games, but we also feed off of the excited crowd, so that will be different for us.”

Soccer

Both men’s and women’s soccer usually compete in the fall but will be proceeding with their 2020 season this March.

The women’s soccer team starts their season away against Kalamazoo on March 18, while the men’s team starts at home on March 22 against Olivet. Both teams will be competing in masks in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We obviously trained in the mask all fall, but playing games in it, and how we regulate that will be a big challenge for everyone – players/staff/referees,” said head women’s soccer coach Eric Scott via email. 

Coordinating practice times with both men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, who will be competing during the same season and on the same field, is another challenge Albion sports face because of COVID-19. 

“With all of our sports competing, the coordination of facility space, practice times, and allowing the student-athletes enough time to be students will be the challenge that falls on a lot of us. I have to say our athletic administration and the athletic training staff have been tremendous in all this, we’re in good hands,” said Scott.

Golf

Men’s and women’s golf, another traditional fall sport, start their season in March. Both the men’s and women’s team start their season on March 27. The women’s team plays at Zollner Golf Club against Trine and the men play at Medalist Golf Club against Olivet. 

Last year, the golf team had their spring seasons that usually start in April cancelled. 

The last time they played was at their respective 2019 MIAA fall finals. The men placed sixth on the second day and the women placed seventh.

Softball 

Softball usually plays during spring semester and will proceed normally, following all safety measures relating to social distancing, testing, mask wearing and sanitizing equipment. They will not be traveling to Florida for their spring training trip this year.  

The Brits held a 9-3 record after spring training last year, the best start in program history, before their 2020 season was cut short due to COVID-19. Even though they didn’t get to finish their season, the team won was awarded the most improved team on campus. Eryn VanderVlucht, last year’s senior pitcher, won the Iron Brit award for her leadership and work ethic in the weight room. 

“Losing the 2020 season definitely impacted the team. Our team members are more eager, more focused and more driven than they have ever been.  With the loss of last year’s season, it put things into perspective,” said head softball coach Leigh Ann LaFave via email. “Our seniors realize that this is it, their last season of college softball. We hope they leave it all out on the field.”

The softball season starts on March 23 at home with a double header against Adrian. 

Baseball 

Baseball will be playing in the spring like usual, starting their season with a doubleheader on March 14, away at Trine. They also have a spring training trip out of state, but will not be participating this year because of COVID-19.

They could not finish their season last year and only got to play nine games. The last played against Anderson in Indiana. 

Men’s Lacrosse 

Both men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will be competing as normal, with both the men’s and women’s season kicking off at Trine. 

Jake DeCola, the men’s lacrosse head coach, believes that the biggest obstacle this season will be the direct or indirect impact of COVID-19 on his team.

“If one player picks up the virus, that is one issue; but it also affects others due to proximity and potential contact which may or may not put other players in quarantine,” said DeCola via email. “Obviously five starters out will give us every reason to make excuses about our performance, and we would like to avoid making them when faced with this situation.” 

 DeCola wants his team to hold each other and other students accountable in order for schooling and sports to continue, a mindset that Together Safely emphasizes. 

“Our goals in a Covid year are pretty simple, there are some things we can control in terms of personal responsibility regarding the virus, and some things that we just will not be able to forecast,” said DeCola. “Ideally, we do not want to be the reason our college has to be shut down, we do not want to be the reason our department has to be shut down, and we really do not want to be the reason that a game is canceled. Some of this is just out of our hands though – and we understand that and accept this.”

Women’s Lacrosse

The last time the Albion women’s lacrosse team played, they were the 2019 MIAA champions. They started their 2020 season in February and five games later the season was cancelled because of COVID-19. 

Because every MIAA team is only able to play in conference, women’s lacrosse will not be playing their usual full schedule. They will be playing every team in the conference twice, giving them the preparedness to defend their title. 

The Brits make their way to Trine for the first game of the season on Feb. 20.

About Taylor Dietz 21 Articles
Taylor Dietz is a senior from Saint Clair Shores, Michigan. She is majoring in English and minoring in German. Going up north is her favorite hobby and will never say no to a slice of pizza.

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