Louie Lu, Production & Design Editor

As people roll up their sleeves to receive vaccines across the country, athletes at Brown, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania are picking up their sticks, gloves and rackets to resume athletic competition in Phase IV of the Ivy League’s plan for the resumption of athletic activities.

Although Yale and Harvard remain in Phase II with fewer than two weeks left of classes this spring semester, many of their fellow Ivy League members have progressed towards full practices without social distancing restrictions and intercollegiate, nonconference competition. Athletic directors and communications staff from Harvard, Penn, Dartmouth, Brown and Yale spoke with the News about their current phasing status, competition and obstacles they have faced this year due to the pandemic. 

Brown Athletic Communications Assistant Nick Dow explained that in the fall, Brown participated in Phase I activities — which only allowed for strength and conditioning workouts — from Oct. 8 to Nov. 15, but has now shifted to Phase IV.

“Brown is currently in Ivy Phase IV [and] the university moved into that phase on 4/2 with Brown’s first competition occurring on 4/3,” Dow wrote in an email to the News. “Brown has competed in local, regional competition this spring in the sports of men’s and women’s crew, coed and women’s sailing, men’s and women’s track & field, softball, women’s tennis and men’s lacrosse.”

As part of their local and regional competition, Brown has competed against schools both in Division I and Division III, with the scheduling of competition varying from sport to sport. Dow anticipates a likely continuation of spring competition into the month of May “with future competitions to be determined.”

Megan Graham, Production & Design Editor

The University of Pennsylvania has also welcomed back athletic competition, entering into Phase IV on Mar. 27. Penn Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Operations Officer Scott Ward said that Penn has mainly competed with local Division I schools within a 40-mile radius of Philadelphia. 

“Philadelphia local schools were very supportive [in] helping us find scheduling opportunities,” Ward said. “Spring sports are permitted to practice through Final exams, May 11, however, some have chosen to end their training sessions already or are finished with competition.”

Ward added that for some sports, it was easier to schedule games than for others because of opponent league and conference schedules. 

Penn Senior Associate Athletic Director of Governance and Administration Kevin Bonner said that Penn’s spring teams competed primarily against fellow Philadelphia City Six schools: Drexel, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova. 

“Penn Athletics moved quickly through the Ivy phases from Phase 1 on February 2 to Phase 4 and competition on March 27,” Bonner wrote to the News. “Track and field and baseball were the first teams to compete on March 27 and in total, 11 spring sports have competed.”

Penn began 2021 in Phase 0, which lasted until February and then progressed through Phase I and II until Phase III, which started on Mar. 15, according to Andrea Wieland, the Penn associate athletic director for sports performance.

Wieland said that earlier this year, obstacles of completely virtual programming as well as no in-person activity, except for medical clearances for student-athletes who were near campus in preparation for the spring, made the fall and winter challenging. She is now happy to get back to local competition safely. 

“[I am] really hoping to get back to fully being in person even if it is with masks, which would be nice to not have,” Wieland said. “I am hoping for a complete return to Ivy League competition [next fall], and I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Wieland mentioned that Penn athletes compete without spectators and are masked and distanced when they are not competing. There are no pre- or post-competition meals or use of locker-rooms, and student-athletes are tested three times a week. 

As Penn’s semester ends, so will its sports, with the exception of track and field competition during exam week. Similarly, Harvard wraps up its Phase II practices and sport-related activity, excluding voluntary strength and conditioning, at the end of its semester on April 28. 

Harvard Senior Associate Director of Athletics Nathan Fry wrote in an email to the News that Harvard has been in Phase II for the majority of the spring term, with a small number of students in residence being the only ones permitted to participate in on-campus sporting activities. 

“We thought it was important to set expectations early in the term for what our semester might look like, and to make sure we were in constant communication and coordination with our campus colleagues,” Fry said. “We expect to welcome a full cohort of students back to campus next fall, and we are actively planning for competition.” 

Fry added that he most looks forward to the “vibrancy of having 1000+ student-athletes return to campus,” with their “commitment to excellence, their engagement with campus, and their exceptional talent.”

While Harvard will not have spring competition this year, Columbia men’s golf was able to participate in the Doc Gimmler Spring Intercollegiate Golf Tournament on April 17 and 18. Columbia is approaching the Ivy League phases differently depending on each team, so the five members of their golf team have, so far, been the only Lions to compete this spring.

Dartmouth has also been able to schedule some games against local schools, including its recent home games against Tufts in men’s and women’s lacrosse and a softball split doubleheader at UMass. Dartmouth’s men’s and women’s track teams also recently competed at the University of New Hampshire with other America East teams, such as UMass Lowell, Vermont, Maine and Hartford.

Cornell is currently in Phase III, hosting full in-person practices without social distancing restrictions, as outlined in the spring 2021 Ivy League phased athletics activity plans.

Princeton recently entered Phase IV on April 23 and has released an updated spring competition schedule that includes softball games, rowing competitions and track meets, according to The Daily Princetonian.

When asked about Yale’s current and future plans for athletics, Associate Athletic Director of Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella wrote in an email that Yale Athletics will “continue to work on a daily basis with our team physician and the University COVID-19 Review Team to determine the appropriate Phase for our student-athletes.”

“Any summer plans will be approved through the University COVID-19 Review Team,” Gambardella added.

As the last two weeks of Yale Athletics remain undetermined in regard to phasing, the Bulldogs have been given no apparent inclination that they will enter Phase IV by the end of the semester. 

Yale Athletics progressed to Phase II of the Ivy League’s plan for the resumption of athletic activities on March 15.

Amelia Lower covers Religious Communities and Yale Divinity School, as well as men's lacrosse and men's ice hockey. She is a first-year in Jonathan Edwards College and is originally from Rye, New York.