CUNY York College mascot, the Cardinal, who’s future of cheering on student athletes at games this year is uncertain.|Photo Credit: York Athletics
By Jeremiah P. Duffy
York Womens’ Basketball Captain Cami Melson is just one of the many students hoping to continue Fall Sports in their senior year– but of course, is being stripped of those hopes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Melson, like many student athletes, balances her academic workload and a passion-driven pursuit of athletics. Yet, York Athletics is shut down for the Fall 2020 semester because of the pandemic. The silver lining for students, staff, faculty, alumni and the York community is that answers and support are on the way.
The confusion and mystery toward the sports season is in no way due to a lack of effort by the Athletic Department. Since closure in March, virtual and logistical efforts have been made to continue assisting student success.
“Yes, unfortunately we aren’t able to compete at this time,” said Interim Director of Athletics & Recreation Carl Christian in a virtual interview with Pandora’s Box. “We just want to do everything we can to support our student athletes in the interim, so they can use this time productively from an academic perspective.”
During the call, Christian also provided information about the Student Athlete Success Program, (SASP), launched this semester. SASP is a holistic approach that promotes health and wellness along with Professional development. Athletics is hoping to build upon the academic success of it’s student athletes in the spring semester. According to yorkatheletics.com, 92
student athletes achieved a 3.0 GPA or better, seven of whom produced 4.0s.
“It’s not about being busy for the sake of being busy, we really want to help and offer some support and some programs where we can,” said Christian.
Men’s Basketball Captain Devine Chisholm said that the academic success and support provided by the program is no replacement for games or the social aspect of the York Athletics culture.
“Just being there with my teammates, pushing each other to make each other better and the locker room conversations and jokes is what I miss the most about my teammates,” said Chisholm in an email interview.
Chisholm went on to share about his time with York Athletics, “My experience with York Athletics has been amazing. I made a home here…most of my friends I have made from athletes in this school so I love it here.
Much to the disappointment of some of York’s student-athletes, the Athletic Department must coordinate with CUNY Central, the Chancellor, and NCAA guidelines on when and how to resume athletics in person. For the Fall season that made the decision for them, according to Christian. Still, considering the upcoming flu season, weekly breaking news from the CDC and updated NCAA guidelines it is going to be a struggle to resume, even in the Spring.
“In a perfect world we would resume competition in the new year,” Christian said. “We would limit the schedule to in-conference play. The NCAA will not be hosting fall sports championships in the Spring at the D-III level.”
This means that if there is a resumption of Fall Sports there will essentially be a season and no playoff continuation afterwards.
“Obviously the Fall sports have passed us by at this point,” said Christian. “ In January, the focus would be on the winter sports: Basketball, Swim[ming], and Indoor Track.”
Coaches and administrators urge our athletes to take advantage of the time away, encouraging students to stay active and involved. In addition to SASP, York Athletics provides three five-week on-demand virtual workout programs (with different levels of complexity).
York College and President Berenecea Johnson-Eanes have also named Ebonie Jackson as the Athletics Diversity and Inclusion Designee (ADID). As of September 2020, Jackson will serve as the primary contact and conduit for diversity and inclusion-related information. One of her first acts is the continuation of The Social Justice Institute radio show on YCRadio.org,
which will host a student-and-staff panel discussion Oct. 6 from 3 to 5 p.m.
“Sports have been at the center of social movements throughout modern American history,” said Jackson. “From racial and gender justice to marriage equality, athletes have had an influence – and when they speak up on the issues, it matters.”
Students can find all the events in the York Weekly Update, tune in on the Cardinal App or log on to yorkathletics.com.
With more questions than answers on the upcoming seasons, York continues to plan for success and move forward together. On keeping a positive outlook, Melson left Pandora’s Box with a few words.
“Whatever comes of our season or doesn’t come we are in this together and I understand I can’t control what’s going on in the world and am staying hopeful,” said Melson.