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Navy athletics on hold another week for COVID mitigation as restrictions remain for midshipmen

By BILL WAGNER | The Capital | Published: March 11, 2021

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Navy's 10-day athletics pause is turning into more of an extended break.

The Naval Academy announced Wednesday morning the ban on all sporting activities would continue through this coming weekend as the restriction of movement order remains in effect.

Athletic director Chet Gladchuk expressed confidence that varsity sports teams could resume practicing early next week with the goal of resuming competitions the weekend of March 19-21.

"We're hopeful by this weekend things will look better on the yard and we'll be able to turn the corner," Gladchuk said. "We're eager and anxious to get back into action."

On Feb. 28, Navy athletics announced a pause on activities for a minimum of 10 days as part of mitigation measures implemented in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the Naval Academy superintendent, outlined the return to a full restriction of movement along with daily antigen coronavirus tests for all those considered close contacts, consuming meals in dorm rooms and a return to a remote classroom environment for at least 10 days.

To comply with the superintendent's directive, the Naval Academy Athletic Association halted all team activities for varsity and club sports. That meant no practices nor competitions beginning Monday, Feb. 29.

Navy men's basketball was exempt from the athletics pause because team members had been moved out of Bancroft Hall and isolated away from the Brigade of Midshipmen since the previous week.

Top-seeded Navy hosted No. 9 Loyola Maryland in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament this past Saturday and was upset. The Midshipmen are hoping for an at-large berth into the National Invitation Tournament to extend their season.

Navy varsity teams were scheduled to participate in 22 events during the initial 10-day pause. Those were all postponed and the athletic department has been gradually announcing makeup dates.

Gladchuk told The Capital Feb. 29 that Navy athletic practices could resume today or tomorrow if there was a decline in positive cases. However, the Naval Academy medical team recommended yesterday an extension of the restriction of movement order.

As I've said repeatedly, it's one day at a time. This is what we've become accustomed to dealing with due to COVID. You just have to grin and bear it," Gladchuk said.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Navy's baseball game at Mount St. Mary's on Wednesday and Navy's home gymnastics meet against William & Mary were both postponed. Now all athletic competitions scheduled through the weekend will be postponed as well.

Not all Navy athletes are sidelined because of the pause. Navy will have four divers competing at the NCAA Zone A Diving Championship in Greensboro, N.C. Thursday through Saturday and one shooter participating at the NCAA Smallbore Championship in Columbus, Ohio on Friday.

Among the Saturday events that will be postponed is the women's lacrosse showdown between Navy and Loyola Maryland. The Midshipmen were supposed to host the Greyhounds at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the continuation of a heated rivalry between the top two programs in the Patriot League.

Navy baseball will have to reschedule a three-game weekend series with Bucknell. The Midshipmen were hosting the Bison in a doubleheader on Saturday then traveling to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for a single contest on Sunday.

Navy baseball has now seen a total of seven games postponed during the current pause. Gladchuk was optimistic the athletic department could successfully make up all those competitions that have been pushed back.

"Unfortunately, it's caught two weekends, which has set us back in terms of competitions," Gladchuk said. "We're working on every front to reschedule the postponed events."

The Brigade Boxing Championships, normally held in late February, had been tentatively rescheduled for mid-March. Longtime club boxing coach and physical education instructor Jim McNally has been told the Brigade Boxing Championships will not be held until late April, after all midshipmen have been fully vaccinated.

Gladchuk emphasized the pause of Navy athletics is tied directly to the extension of the restriction of movement at the academy.

"This is not singling out athletics. This is an institutional decision to extend the ROM period. All activities at the academy are curtailed until the superintendent is comfortable with the environment," he said.

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