Stella Stone of Bates College fires a shot on goal during a women’s lacrosse game against the University of Southern Maine in Lewiston on March 10, 2020. The Bobcats were victorious, 20-1, in what ended up being the final home contest at Bates College before the school and spring sports season were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Bates College athletic director Jason Fein is facing a short window to organize a modified, four-week spring sports season.

That means preparing schedules for baseball, softball, golf, track and field, tennis, rowing and lacrosse — and all that juggling doesn’t include fall and winter teams that are permitted to hold conditional workouts.

“So it will be a pretty hefty, robust spring schedule,” Fein said. “This has been something we have been hoping for a year, so we know it is going to be a heavy lift, but I think everyone is willing to get on board and will try to make it happen because the students lost their spring last year and the coaches lost their spring last year. We are hoping to have a good experience this spring.

“We probably won’t play everyone in the league. We would play a modified schedule where there would maybe be an East-West Division and play certain teams. So everything would have to fit into a four-week period.”

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) issued a statement last week regarding the upcoming spring season. According to conference’s presidents: “Due to variations in local conditions, institutional policies and state travel restrictions, each institution will make its own determination whether to participate. 

“Spring conference competition will take place in a sport only if there is the minimum number of NESCAC teams (six) to sponsor play, and only if a school chooses to participate. Competition will take place within abbreviated regional schedules from mid-April to mid-May.

“To protect the well-being of our students, staff, faculty and broader communities, the NESCAC athletic directors, working with medical personnel and other experts, have developed comprehensive health and safety protocols for spring competition. These protocols exceed NCAA guidance and complement the robust COVID-19 testing already taking place on NESCAC campuses.”

Fein added that the Bobcats football team will not play a spring schedule.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “There will be practices. We are allowing the fall and winter teams to do some conditional work, but football will not have any games, as far as I know, anywhere in the conference.”

NESCAC will keep a close eye on the pandemic as the spring season gets underway.

“The Presidents and the conference will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic and respond as needed to regulatory changes at the federal, state and local levels, as well as to any shifts in medical guidance or best practices,” according to last week’s statement. “Spectators for athletic events will be limited to individuals who are part of the host institution’s testing protocol, and individual institutions may impose additional restrictions.”

Bates College’s Margaret Smith looks to pass the ball in Lewiston in the last lacrosse game before sports were cancelled due COVID-19 the past spring. Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

Fein is encouraged as vaccinations continue and COVID-19 cases appear to be falling, but he said that caution is the only way to proceed during the pandemic.

“You still cannot loose sight of that fact that it is still a very dangerous virus,” he said. “The virus will kind of decide, I think, when it is done with us, as opposed to us deciding when we are done with the virus.” 

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