Jessie Cheung, Contributing Photographer

On Monday, when Yale students start classes for the 2021 spring semester, student-athletes will begin the term with no in-person activities in Phase 0 of the Ivy League’s plan for the resumption of athletic activities. 

The start in Phase 0 coincides with Yale’s quarantine restrictions and guidelines that attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 as students return to campus and the greater New Haven area. Last semester, Phase 0 started on the first day of classes on Aug. 31 before Yale Athletics proceeded to move to Phase I on Sep. 21, meaning student-athletes waited three weeks before beginning limited strength and conditioning training.

Yale’s Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella told the News of Phase 0’s commencement on Monday, but did not specify a projected timeline for a move into Phase I.

“Phases are fluid, have no end date and are based on campus health,” he wrote in an email.

As part of the Ivy League’s memo to spring-sport athletes earlier this month regarding the possibility of spring competition, the conference said that it was modifying some aspects of its phasing system to allow for “additional sport-specific activity in earlier phases.” Last semester, Phase I permitted limited training and strength and conditioning, but did not allow for sport-specific activities. Phase II allowed for up to two hours of sport-specific and weight training per day with social distancing between participants. Phase III marked a loosening of Phase II restrictions, leaving limits on practice group size up to individual Ivy League institutions.

During Phase 0, no in-person physical athletic activities are allowed, but teams can meet virtually with coaches.

“For me, it really sums up to the fact that the possibility for any baseball is better than guaranteed no baseball,” Yale baseball catcher Jake Gehri ’22 said about his decision to enroll this semester. “Back home in Washington, we don’t have these state of the art facilities like guys down in Texas and Florida have so that was also another factor in my decision. Baseball can be a very distanced sport also so that has my hopes up.”

Last semester, Yale never reached Phase III and instead spent the majority of the academic term in Phase 0. In total, Yale Athletics spent 44 days in Phase 0, 33 days in Phase I and only six days in Phase II between the first day of class and Thanksgiving. 

If last semester’s timeline is any indication of when Yale Athletics will proceed to Phase I, student-athletes would have to decide whether or not to take a leave of absence before training in person with their teams. The deadline to petition for a leave of absence is 15 days after the term starts on Monday.

“I think it was mostly that COVID has not improved enough such that I could have access to the parts of Yale that I want,” sailor Helena Ware ’23 said about her decision to take this semester off. “And I’m definitely missing in-person classes, especially because my course load is so dominated by lab courses and small seminars, which are very hard to replicate online.”

40.2 percent of returning student-athletes elected to take a leave of absence last fall.

Eugenio Garza García | eugenio.garzagarcia@yale.edu

EUGENIO GARZA GARCíA
Eugenio Garza García covers baseball, golf and athletic phasing. Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, he is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in Economics and English.