Navy athletics resumes all activities; practices begin Monday with hope of facing outside competition this week
By BILL WAGNER | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: March 22, 2021
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Hundreds of Navy athletes awoke this morning to welcome news.
Naval Academy leadership determined overnight that varsity athletics could resume activities beginning Monday afternoon.
"It's a beautiful day and the sun is shining on Navy athletics. We're thrilled to be back in action," Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said. "It's great news that after this lengthy reprieve we can now reengage."
Gladchuk said practices for all varsity sports competing during the spring semester would commence this afternoon with the most immediate focus on conditioning. Navy first announced a pause of all athletic activities beginning March 1, and it was extended several times, the last on March 13.
"Every program is evaluating the ability to recondition its athletes. You can't come off sitting for three weeks then put it into high gear," Gladchuk said. "These athletes have to gradually work themselves back into playing shape."
Gladchuk said coaches are concerned that rushing the process could lead to injuries. Additionally, Navy varsity teams do not want to resume outside competition until skills have been sharpened to the point of putting out a representative product.
"Whenever we take the field or court, we come at you with high intensity," Gladchuk said. "We're going to embrace competition as soon as we are properly conditioned and prepared to do so."
Navy currently has 20 varsity sports in the midst of seasons. They are baseball, men's golf, women's golf, men's gymnastics, men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse, heavyweight rowing, lightweight rowing, women's rowing, intercollegiate sailing, offshore sailing, men's soccer, women's soccer, squash, men's swimming, men's tennis, women's tennis, men's outdoor track and field, women's outdoor track and field and volleyball.
Each one of those sports was forced to postpone multiple competitions during the three-week pause. Gladchuk said the athletic department is working furiously to reschedule as many of those events as possible.
"We're making every effort to salvage some portion of the regular season," he said.
Most Navy varsity programs compete in the Patriot League, which has established a minimum number of games that member schools must play to be eligible for the postseason. Gladchuk said priority will be placed on rescheduling all conference contests so the Midshipmen can meet the threshold set for each sport.
"Those requirements were putting a lot of pressure on our various programs because the days and weeks were going by and we were getting concerned we wouldn't meet the minimums," he said.
Gladchuk said there is a possibility that varsity athletics competitions could resume this Wednesday. Navy men's and women's soccer are both scheduled to play Bucknell, while volleyball has a match with American. Meanwhile, the men's swimming and diving team is sending athletes to the NCAA Championship meet in Greensboro, N.C.
Gladchuk was confident all teams would be ready to compete by Saturday when 13 Navy varsity programs are in action. Navy men's lacrosse is scheduled to host Holy Cross, while Navy women's lacrosse is slated to travel to West Point to face archrival Army in the Star game.
"I know the coaches are very relieved to be back in action and certainly the athletes are extremely grateful and enthusiastic about getting back to work," Gladchuk said.
Navy athletes competing in spring sports had already lost almost the entire 2020 season. Week by week, they were watching the 2021 season — and half their collegiate careers — slip away.
"It has been really tough on those spring athletes. If you are a youngster [sophomore] competing in a spring sport, you have been sidelined for most of the time you have been at Navy," Gladchuk noted.
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