by Harlee Lucier
Purchase College men’s lacrosse team is preparing to hit the field for their first game in almost a year.
“We are just very excited to get back on the field and play as a team,” said Michael Bocklet, head coach of men’s lacrosse at Purchase College. “Even these preseason practices have been great. You can tell the guys are excited to be back together working out as a team. It's a feeling of normalcy we haven’t had in a while. Getting back and competing win or loss.”
The Panthers are navigating their first season of lacrosse with new regulations and guidelines due to COVID-19.
The men’s lacrosse season was cut short only two games into the season last year, after the Skyline Conference canceled the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Since then, the team has been counting the days until they are able to play again.
“My team would be happy if they had a chance to play just one game. We had a nice start last season and we were all upset when it was canceled,” Ben Erkan, senior captain of the men’s lacrosse team says. “We are just trying to bring that same motivation to this season with just more energy and appreciation to every day we practice and play.”
With the announcement of the spring sports season officially starting, it left the men's lacrosse team with a lot of emotions and unknowns. Head coach Brocklet said, “Mixture of excitement and skepticism there are still a lot of obstacles in the way. With the uncertainty of people testing positive and being able to get everything safely done.”
The team is doing everything in their power to stay healthy for their season. They are grateful to be able to even practice together and aren't taking anything for granted this season because it can all change in an instant.
"Practice time and game times can change at any second due to the rules with other sports,” said Jayden Morrobel, a freshman on the Purchase College men's lacrosse team. He added that athletes also need to schedule weekly COVID tests around team practices.
Purchase College has implemented new guidelines to protect the athletes that teams have easily adapted to. Purchase College has added clear protective shields to the lacrosse helmets that act as a mask for the players. Each player has a temperature check before they are able to enter the practice and there is pool testing required weekly for all athletes.
Coach Bocklet explains that their games have been spaced out this season with a game every Friday. This allows the schools in the Skyline Conference to make sure every athlete has a negative COVID-19 test result before their next competition.
With the cold weather and a large amount of snow at Purchase college, the turf was not cleared off for the teams to use for most of the start of the semester. This itself created a new obstacle for the team.
“We have a team of about 20 guys, so we have to do half in the gym practicing, while the other half goes and does a workout elsewhere, then we switch,” said Erkan. He says that the separation of the team at practice is not ideal, but they are happy to be practicing at all.
Despite the new challenges of this season, however, Purchase College is doing its best to get back to some kind of normalcy. “I just wanna give a shout-out to the athletics department as a whole working hard during this time,” said Erkan, “They want us to play just as badly as us. I and the team are very thankful for them.”
The team’s hard work will be on display at their first game of the season at Purchase College on March 19, at 7 p.m. against Farmingdale State College. There are no spectators allowed at the games but fans are available to watch the livestream.