Courtesy of Becca Gill

Limitations on athletic competition brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted the plans of many Yale student-athletes. Facing canceled conference play, limited opportunities for competition and restrictive practice policies, teams have seen large numbers of students choose to take time off.

Of the 27 returning members on the women’s lacrosse team, 17 have taken at least one semester off this year. Of the team’s nine recruits, seven opted to take a year off and join the class of 2025, leaving only two currently set to graduate in 2024.

For Jenna Collignon ’25, the decision was not an easy one. Selected as one of the “25 High School Girls’ Lacrosse Players to Watch in 2020” by U.S. Lacrosse Magazine, Collignon wanted a better chance at four years of lacrosse. But her decision was made difficult due to the prospect of graduating a year later than her high school classmates.

“I knew all online classes would be a challenge for me especially if I was going to be stuck in a single dorm,” Collignon said. “I knew there was a pretty high chance there wouldn’t be a lacrosse season or even preseason and that was devastating to think about. In addition, I expected the social aspect of college to be very restricted.”

Collignon decided to defer her enrollment just a day before the final deadline. For the past six months, the Hinsdale, Illinois, native has worked for a mortgage warehouse team within Wintrust Bank.

Much like her future teammate, midfielder Becca Gill ’25 sent in her request for a leave of absence on July 14 — a day before the July 15 deadline. Since last September, she has worked as a research assistant under Harvard professor David Kane.

“I wanted my college experience to be as close to normal as possible because I always heard stories from my older siblings [about] how memorable it [was],” Gill said. “I knew that I [would] only get four years to meet people and be with my teammates, and I [also] figured the pandemic would improve over the course of the year.” 

Both Gill and Collignon have kept in touch with their future teammates during their year off. According to Gill, the seven new recruits who chose to defer enrollment recently participated in their first all-team meeting, which was conducted virtually through Zoom. The team has also subdivided into smaller groups to facilitate team bonding and workout plans.

Captain Kelsey Dunn ’22 did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the team’s plans for incorporating new recruits.

This season marks head coach Erica Bamford’s sixth year at the helm. Under her leadership, the team has wrangled numerous difficulties both on and off the pitch, including the alleged departure of six senior players and a losing record that spanned her first four consecutive seasons. Last year’s incomplete spring season saw the Elis record four wins and two draws — its first positive overall record under Bamford.

Bamford did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the team’s plans for this season and on whether support was provided earlier this year for new recruits who considered deferring enrollment.

In February, details emerged surrounding a proposal by Yale alumnus Joseph Tsai ’86 LAW ’90 for a competition bubble which would have allowed both men’s and women’s Ivy League lacrosse teams to move forward with their season. While the idea was ultimately rejected in a group decision made by the Ivy League, there is still a glimmer of hope for the Elis to participate in competition this semester.

Under Phase IV of the Ivy League phasing guidelines, teams could potentially participate in local nonconference competition. While much of this is dependent on public health guidelines, the women’s lacrosse team could theoretically see a number of fixtures later this season.

Assistant coach Colleen Smith and members of the women’s lacrosse team did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the possibility of competition this season.

Yale’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament for women’s lacrosse came in 2007.

Ryan Chiao | ryan.chiao@yale.edu

RYAN CHIAO
Ryan Chiao serves as a photography editor at the Yale Daily News and moonlights as a staff reporter for the sports desk. Originally from Hong Kong, Ryan is majoring in Global Affairs and is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma. Catch him on the IM fields playing ultimate frisbee or in the pool drowning with the water polo team.