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Spring-sport athletes invited back to campus for Spring Term 2

Spring-sport athletes will have the option to return to campus this spring. Photo contributed by Ted Schulz.

Grinnell College has extended invitations for on-campus residency in Spring Term 2 to 80 student-athletes participating in intercollegiate spring sports programs. Additionally, first-year student-athletes that are involved in spring sports will now have the option to remain on campus following the conclusion of Spring Term 1, as opposed to leaving with the rest of their year.

Athletes in spring sport programs learned that they would be permitted to live on campus and engage in practice on the evening of Feb. 18 through emergency meetings held by the head coaches of their respective teams. Elaine Marzluff, interim dean of the College, extended official invitations to spring student-athletes via email on the morning of Feb. 19.

“Several considerations led to this decision including capacity for student support services, the safe occupancy of spaces where regular activities can be held outdoors, and where physical distance can be prioritized,” wrote Marzluff in an email addressed to spring athletes.

Spring sports include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, track and field and tennis.

The College extended the invitation to the student-athletes, on top of the 670 students that will be living in residence on- and off-campus during Spring Term 2. As of yet, an official decision has not been made about competition for Grinnell’s athletic teams. Students who choose to accept their invitations will join their teams in practice and training sessions that have already begun on campus.

Marzluff explained that the Executive Operations Team — a group in charge of making the final decisions on pandemic planning – received their final assessment on the number of students expected to be on campus and in Grinnell approximately a week ago.

“We realized we had some additional capacity and so we started to discuss how we might be able to use that,” said Marzluff.

Though Marzluff says a variety of different groups were considered, the executive operations team ultimately decided to invite spring athletes to campus because the number of eligible students aligned well with the extra available space on campus in Spring Term 2.

The decision to invite spring athletes and not fall athletes also came from consideration of how sports seasons played out last year.

“This is a group of students who also last spring were not able to be on campus and have their spring season, whereas for our fall and winter athletes, they were able to have their almost complete seasons last year,” said Marzluff.

Tali Tesar `22, a member of the track and field team, has refused her invitation to come to campus for Spring Term 2. She does not believe athletes should have received priority when it came to extra space on campus.

“I would think there should be more of an academic focus,” Tesar said. “For people who are theater and dance majors, that might be something they do for the rest of their lives. Two years of online classes would be really detrimental to their overall Grinnell experience, more so I think than athletics being online or not having them.”

Tesar is also concerned about potential risks with regard to COVID-19 that could result from increased population levels on campus.

“It’s interesting because in the fall obviously the College was being super careful with the decisions they were making and very much erring on the side of caution,” explained Tesar. “It feels like that has just kind of gone out the window.”

Spring athletes must decide on their plans to come to campus Spring Term 2 no later than 8 a.m. on Feb. 22.

The article has been corrected regarding the seasonal status of the swimming and dive team. Per NCAA classification, swimming and dive is a winter sport and will not be included in the return to campus.

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