This past Friday, Oct. 9, President Fiorentino announced that West Chester University will be reconsidering their status for spring athletics after officially cancelling the season just a few days earlier. Student athletes and coaches have at least some hope now that a spring season can happen.
On Oct. 7, President Fiorentino let West Chester know that unfortunately, the spring semester would look pretty much the same as this fall did. This includes almost all classes remaining remote, as well as sports programs losing spring seasons. All hope for fall programs to play in the spring, and for spring programs to have a season at all, were dashed. This quickly drew a response in opposition to Fiorentino’s announcement, enough for Fiorentino to retract his decision.
In an email sent out to the WCU community, President Fiorentino stated: “At the urging of Council of Trustees Chairperson Senator Tomlinson, West Chester University will be reconsidering our status for spring athletics. We will be seeking additional updates from PSAC, our athletic conference, and the NCAA regarding the status of championships and testing protocols as part of that reconsideration. Once we have received an update from PSAC, we will be in a better position to provide more detailed information.”
Although it may be true that there was pressure from the Council of Trustees and Senator Tomlinson, there are other forces at work here as well. A petition was started on Change.org by WCU women’s soccer player Nicolette Harrison calling for a reconsideration of the decision; at the time of writing, it has 7,320 signatures and counting out of the goal of 7,500.
“From the time we enter into travel sports as little kids, day in and day out, we devote our lives to this path we have chosen, to get to the point where a university takes a chance on our abilities,” the petition states. “Now we are here and our athletic careers are being put to a firm halt, without any consideration of us athletes, without any respect to time, without any room for improvement of the virus, without any alternatives discussed. Our ALL has been given to the sport that we love, and we will not let the most important time of our athletic career, and one of the few years we have left, be thrown away without a fight. Other schools are figuring it out, why can’t we?”
The petition goes on to describe some possible solutions. “There are ways to make this work; reduction in spectators, masks, frequent covid testing and proper sanitation” it states.
Many who have signed the petition have posted strong messages as to why they signed. Fellow WCU student athlete Bayla Shindledecker voiced her opposition to the cancellation of the spring season on the petition’s website: “As a college athlete, I have dedicated so much to my sport and my team. A huge reason I chose to attend WCU was to play rugby. We didn’t even get to have a voice in the decision of our seasons before they were stripped away from us. Our sports give an outlet, a family and a drive. So many people have faced extreme uncertainty and stress over the past few months, and now taking away our voice in this decision has created even more. If we don’t have a spring season and we play in the fall, that’ll be 18 months without my team being in competition. How is that okay for athletes to take so long from playing? Please give us a voice in this decision.”
Bill Zwaan, head coach of the WCU football team, shared his thoughts on the spring season reconsideration on Twitter: “Thanks to everyone who stepped up yesterday to support our student athletes, especially Senator Tomlinson. Let’s keep this momentum going. This is just the first step!” – @coachzwaan
To track the petition’s progress, check out www.change.org/p/president-of-west-chester-university-allowing-athletic-competition.
Tyler Grace is a third-year Economics and Finance major. TG885739@wcupa.edu