New beginnings for the Whitman Blues

Alexa Grechishkin, Campus Life Reporter

The Whitman Blues have endured two years of new obstacles, cancelled games and shifting regulations. Despite these trials, as the spring season begins, athletes are breaking new ground and have high expectations for the season.

First-year lacrosse player Gracie Maulik lamented her sport’s loss of a season in 2021, mentioning that it inhibited the community’s perception of her team.

“It was pretty difficult for the lacrosse team to build a base and have a team to come back to,” Maulik said. “We’re really starting fresh this year, which is difficult because… people don’t know what to expect from us, but I’m super excited because I think everyone is ready to prove themselves.”

This anticipation resonated with first-year track team member Christian Roche. As Whitman’s track team begins its first full season in 20 years, some athletes would feel crushing pressure to live up to expectations. Roche, however, takes a more hopeful perspective.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Roche said. “I think it gives us a unique opportunity to have some fun with track; the expectations aren’t extremely high because we haven’t done this before.”

For senior swimmer Michael Chang, the 2022 season means the return of heightened competition. Consistency is critical for sports, and momentum can easily plummet without the ability to compete against a wide variety of opponents. After powering through last year’s season, the swim team can finally compete against opponents from out of state again.

“I feel like the turnout has been more this year than previous years, which has been really cool to see,” Chang said. “Getting out and watching other sports and supporting each other, I’m pretty hopeful and optimistic that we’ll be able to do that.”

For administration at Whitman, weighing spectator and athlete safety against community support has been a delicate balancing act. On Jan. 14, 2022 Whitman announced an updated spectator policy to allow fans from outside Whitman to watch games with three vaccinations and a KN95, N95 or KF94 mask, leaving athletes hopeful that the encouragement they have received will reach new heights. The constant changes to regulations mean that adaptability is key.

“I think as a whole people have been doing a pretty good job at masking and have been flexible with all the policies and adhering to everything,” Chang said.

Student vigilance when following COVID-19 guidelines is critical to maintaining safe environments. Roche discussed how she has found herself spending more time bonding within her track pod to avoid jeopardizing the safety of herself and others around her. The college’s expansion of access to COVID-19 testing and consistent contact tracing have mitigated transmission thus far and have allowed for guidelines to safely open up to permit more fans to spectate athletic events.

“It’s fantastic, the energy of a crowd can definitely change games. If more people can come out safely, it will really help to build an awesome lacrosse community,” Maulik said.