Spring Athletics: Preparing for the return of athletics at Eastern with new policies and procedures.

This spring Eastern is preparing for athletes to hopefully participate in a full athletic season.
This past fall, Eastern and the MAC Conference had the opportunity to learn what will be required to give athletes the opportunity to have a season while also protecting the communities they are part of during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This fall many division one universities had sports programs complete seasons despite Covid outbreaks in athletic programs and across college campuses as a whole. Although these outbreaks are less than ideal, college athletic programs across the country had the opportunity to learn from the procedures and policies instituted by those programs competing this fall. The NCAA and the MAC Conference has adjusted their policies in attempts to emulate the procedure practiced by programs that were able to maintain safe conditions in their athletic programs.

In an interview with Athletic Director Eric McNelly, he shared that new policies for this spring were added to those in the fall. The new policies include regular testing of student athletes, and separating opponents and members outside of Eastern’s community.

The new testing policies include weekly surveillance testing for sports that are considered intermediate risk sports based upon the NCAA’s tiering system released for the spring. Sports where teams are high risk or practice off campus are being tested three times a week. Sports that remain on campus are following a surveillance testing protocol until games begin when all members of the team will be tested on game day. If an athlete fails to attend their scheduled test, they will not be allowed to participate in practice until they have been tested.

Visiting teams will be screened as they get off their bus when they arrive along with having negative test results in order to be allowed to play that day. Opponents will have their own designated places while at Eastern, including separated locations to congregate for limited amounts of time that meet CDC guidelines and trailer locker rooms at outdoor playing fields. Teams will also be encouraged to use the restrooms on their charter busses to avoid the need for visiting athletes to enter other Eastern facilities.

Indoor sports such as basketball will practice social distancing by spacing out chairs where the bleachers would be while sitting on the bench and those athletes will be required to wear masks. Due to the rigorous testing protocols, athletes on the court during game play will be able to remove their masks, but will be expected to put one on as soon as they exit the court boundaries to sit on the bench in the way that higher NCAA divisions and professional teams have been playing.

Outdoor sports will have two trailers for visiting teams to avoid entering Eastern facilities. Each of those trailers will be assigned to a visiting team for the duration of the game and visiting teams will be on campus for as short an amount of time as possible. Members of visiting teams and their staff will only be allowed into Eastern athletic facilities under extenuating circumstances and will be monitored by Eastern staff.

Unfortunately at this time there will be no in -person spectators at any sports due to conference policy. Eastern will be bringing on extra staff in order to live stream all games so that fellow students and families can tune in from the comfort of their home or dorm to support their favorite teams.

As this semester progresses, athletes, students and other members of the Eastern community can expect these policies to reflect the policies that the NCAA is recommending programs implement to reflect the changing conditions of the pandemic. Although the current policies are subject to change, the main priority will remain keeping the Eastern community safe through reducing the possibility of Covid transmission through athletics with rigorous testing, reducing contact with visiting opponents and officials, and following the guidelines set forth by the NCAA and MAC conferences.

In relation to these policies and the policies put forth by the university, A.D. McNelly recommends athletes “Follow it, and adhere to it because you’re only putting the department at risk if we have a positive case”. McNelly also stresses the importance of everyone doing their part to be positive members of the community by wearing your mask, following social distancing, and other policies instituted by the university.

For sports players and students alike, following these protocols is an exercise in teamwork and mutual cooperation.

Mental Heath Conversations: College Students Struggle with Mental Health during COVID-19

During the fall semester in the midst of the pandemic, many students are struggling to keep their mental health in check.

With coping mechanisms removed by community guidelines and restrictions due to COVID-19, the
mental health of many students is slipping. Fear, anxiety and depression are heightened by the isolation
that quarantine and community regulations create. During recent conversations with fellow students
about their experiences on campus and how they are working to cope with these unprecedented
times, students shared their experience with coping mechanisms in the past and the way their ‘normal’
has been altered.

When discussing their experiences with mental health on campus, an anonymous student described
their mental health to be “nonexistent” due to a lack of access to their previous coping mechanisms. Fellow Eastern students who typically spend time with friends off campus to have a break from their studies now have to find other ways to adhere to community guidelines while still taking care of themselves.

When discussing coping strategies, some students prefer to be around friends, others play sports, and
still others retreat to their rooms for peace and quiet. Karissa Mancentelli said, “I go for a drive to relax
and clear my mind,” when asked how she deals with stress. She finds this a safe way to take time to herself now that she and her roommate are in their dorm all the time while still maintaining community standards of social distancing.”

According to the CDC, many people are also greatly affected by changes to their eating and sleeping habits. Many students are spending more time on their computers with more extensive work outside the classroom, and are finding themselves logging more late nights then ever. Others face challenges with being tired most of the time due to the effects of stress on the body.

Finding coping mechanisms is essential for students experiencing stress especially headed into the finals season as the holidays approach. Taking time to step away from studies to recoup and rest will hopefully help students refocus and finish the semester strong. Students recommended each other to go for a walk, play a game with friends, take time to leave your dorm and turn off your computer to avoid zoom and screen fatigue.

Mental health on campus during the pandemic has been a challenge for many students, and while some have found ways to cope, others have struggled to settle into a schedule and keep their mental health on track.

Sources: CDC

Introducing Coach Adams: Terri Adams joins Eastern’s Softball Program to a short season of growth.

Coach Terri Adams has joined Eastern University as the Head Softball coach starting in the 2020 season. Adams hopes to lead the Eagles to a winning season this coming Spring after her inaugural season as Eagle was cut short by COVID-19.

Adams grew up in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania playing softball, field hockey and basketball for her
school and went on to play Softball for Kutztown University as a pitcher. In high school, Adams served
as treasurer for the student government program (where she is still a lifetime member), and was the
sports editor for the yearbook. Adams has had an extensive career before coming to Eastern including
experience at the Division 1 and professional levels.

Mentors in Adams’ life include her parents, who taught her the importance of having a strong work
ethic, and a fellow coach, whom she referred to as Rocky, during her time at Temple University who she
dubbed her softball mentor. Over the course of her time at Temple, she recalled learning not just about
softball but about people too, how to encourage a team and drive them to work towards a common goal, and how to settle disputes and celebrate success.

Adams was introduced to her husband, Jerry Morrow during her time at Temple by Rocky, and
later he encouraged them to work together at St. Joseph’s. While she was not interested in Morrow at
first, as the two worked together, they learned from each other and grew to love each other. Now they
enjoy competitive card games and spending time with family and friends. They can be spotted pregame
doing their secret handshake that has grown over the years when something good happens in their lives.

She recalled her first times on campus when she visited to watch her nephew play against Eastern’s
lacrosse team. Adams said “I came in one time and saw the water wheel, and when I was in seventh
grade, my dad and I made a waterwheel and we won the national history day contest. So I’ve always been fascinated with the water wheel”. She considers the wheel a hidden gem on campus and is surprised that many people have never heard of it.

Adams hopes to continue to grow Eastern’s program and foster not just a team but an Eastern softball family. Adams wants to be remembered for how much she cares about her players, program and colleagues. She said “It’s just leaving knowing that those kids believed in me and that they knew if they needed anything they could count on us”.

Winning softball is not everything for Adams. She believes in the importance of growing the program,
and providing the best experience she can for her student athletes to grow into young adults, poised
for a successful and happy life.

Army Vs. Navy; It’s More Than Just a Game: Long standing traditions and rivalries bring together two military branches through competition.

Every year, one of the most talked about College football games of the season is the Army vs. Navy game held in Philadelphia. With a deep-seated rivalry and competitive spirits, students and athletes hail from their universities for an annual showdown. But the army-navy game is way more than just a football game. It is a long standing tradition including commissioning ceremonies and celebrations of camaraderie.

The Navy Midshipmen and Army Black Knights travel to Philadelphia for the game most years to face off in a neutral territory. For the first time since World War II, the game will be played in New York at West Point’s Michie Stadium due to COVID-19 regulations. The stadium will host the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen, but the presence of other fans is unlikely.

The Midshipmen and Cadets have traveled to Philadelphia 89 times in the history of their 121 match ups and the academies have only hosted the games 6 times in total. Currently, Navy leads the Overall match up history 60-52-7.

On a day filled with competition and traditions, fans and students pour into the city and stadium area
with chants of “Go Navy, Beat Army” and “Go Army, Beat Navy” as they prepare for the excitement of the
day. Some families cheer for the same team while others are houses divided as some generations or
siblings served for different branches.

The day begins long before the brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets march in formation
onto the field in navy coats and white covers. With units from each academy lining up and gathering
at their muster stations to enter the stadium, fans tailgate in the parking lots before finding their seats
in the stadium. Drum line battles ensue as part of the traditions during the day as midshipmen and cadets compete against each other to claim best showmanship and skills.

Just before kick off, fans can expect a fly over including demonstrations of navy and army parachute
skills, and when the president is in attendance, a view of Air Force One. Another long standing tradition is the prisoner exchange where students who spent the fall at the opposing academy return to their home school to cheer on their team with classmates. This symbolizes the end of the fall semester.

As a sign of solidarity and respect, both schools sing the alma matters of first the losing team and second the winning team. This long-standing tradition represents the fact that though they compete against each other on the field, they are united in their service to the United States and respect their comrades in arms.

This year will look different from years past. Midshipmen and Cadets will be present at the game being held at West Point, but it is unlikely that fans will be able to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic
regulations. Those in attendance for both ceremonies and the game will be tested 48 hours before their
arrival to the Game on Dec. 12, 2020. The game will continue for the 121st time because it’s more than
just a game; its a long standing tradition of rivalry and respect that brings two branches together to
compete against each other before coming together in solidarity.

Sources: Army Times, Navy Online, We are the Mighty

Eastern Esports: With a strong start to the season in Rocket league, the Eagles are still finding their footing in other competitions.

Esports is unique as they are the few teams able to compete during Covid-19 restrictions due to the ability for their competitions to be held entirely online. Members stream their games while competing against other teams remotely from their home campus in order to maintain social
distancing. As the fall semester has started, Eastern’s Esports team has competed in Rocket League, Overwatch and Super Smash Brothers.

Nathaniel (Nate) Hunyh, Cody Fox and Scott Polly started the inaugural season for Esports in a Hearthstone tournament where they began to get their footing as a team. In their first match, they pulled off an upset against RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) and went on to be defeated by Lebanon Valley and lost their second matchup against RIT to end their run in the double elimination tournament.

With a strong start to the season in Rocket League, a game that is similar to soccer, but played with cars pushing a ball in place of players, Eastern’s teams have beaten Robert Morris University, Juniata College, and Penn College ‘B’ while losing to Lackawanna College in their first four matchups of the season. Upcoming match ups include Messiah University, Point Park University, and Lebanon Valley College.

Eastern also is in an Overwatch league where teams compete against each other to complete objectives and reach checkpoints before the other team. The Overwatch competitions for Eastern have had a rough start going 0-8 for their match ups to date, but have also experienced some growth as they won their first rounds and competed closely with teams in matches requiring some overtimes and some game victories. They have one match up remaining against Messiah University on October 26th.

The Super Smash Brothers league, where competitors battle against each other fighting for positions in fighting rings and attempt to ‘smash’ each other from the playing field. So far, competition has been difficult for the Eagles to break into as they have been swept 0-2 in all of their competitions so far this season. In their most recent competition, the Eagles started strong in game two, but were unable to hold off Montgomery Community College. Their final match will take place against Immaculata University on Friday October 30.

Sources: Eastern Athletics

Professional Athletes Weigh In: Current and Retired Pro Athletes endorse their Candidates for the 2020 Election.

In the past, many retired Professional and Olympic Athletes have endorsed presidential candidates including Mike Tyson, Magic Johnson, and Abby Wombach, and the 2020 Election has been no different. Current Professional Athletes in the past have abstained from endorsing any candidate in elections. Many retired athletes have spoken out and endorsed presidential candidates for 2020.

Athletes are represented on both sides of the isle in every election cycle, and go on to provide community service and support to the cities they play in. Athletes such as Abby Wombach become members of the campaign team and attend speaking engagements on behalf of their selected candidate.

In past elections, professional athletes who are still active on rosters have abstained from endorsing a candidate to refrain from misrepresenting any of the brands, teams, and organizations they are members of where political opinions are more diverse.

The 2020 election is unique in the fact that more and more professional athletes are electing to endorse a candidate and fuel voting campaigns.

Current Pro athletes that have endorsed Biden include Stephen Curry, point guard for the Golden State Warriors, and Lebron James of the LA Lakers.
Michelle Kwan, an Olympic figure skater endorsed Biden and joined his campaign as she believes in his ability to unify the country based on past record. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, has also endorsed Biden, claiming that “Donald Trump doesn’t want to run a country. He wants to run a campaign”.

President Donald Trump has been endorsed by current Washington Nationals Players Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman, who both showed their support during the celebration of the World Series. Mike Tyson, former pro boxer, has also endorsed Trump along with professional golfer John Daly. Dana White, UFC President, has endorsed Trump and spoke at a Trump rally in Colorado as well as appearing at the Republican National Convention. Former NFL athlete Jack Brewer has shown support for Trump while also directing criticism toward Joe Biden.

The election is highly charged and opposing sides have been speaking out for their candidates and working to make their opposition look bad as well.
Many Professional athletes abstain from endorsing a candidate but encourage fans to go out and vote.

The NFL has created an initiative to encourage voters to develop their own game plan for casting their ballot in person or through the mail system. Athletes have created warm up t-shirts and game day outfits around the message of encouraging civic engagement and voting.

The Charlotte Hornets, a WNBA team, has turned their stadium into an early voting site along with many collegiate stadiums all looking to provide voters safe access to polling amid the coronavirus pandemic. This response by the professional sports stage is unprecedented and comes in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. Athletes have been speaking out about the importance of civic engagement now more than ever as the days until
the election are being counted down quickly.

Sources: CBS NEWS, Clutch Points, USA Today

Eastern Athletics Intramurals: Eastern’s Student-Athletes and Coaches Compete in Intramural sports.

Eastern University’s athletics programs have been experiencing an unprecedented year due to Covid-19. With the spring of 2020 seasons ending abruptly to fall seasons being delayed until spring, athletes at Eastern have had their seasons altered in one way or another. In an attempt to keep athletes involved in competitions of some form, Eastern’s Student-Athletes Activities Committee (SAAC) in partnership with the athletic department has started athletics intramural days.

Every other Saturday during the month of September and into October, SAAC and the Athletics
Department have put together Intramurals for athletes to participate in. Teams have been battling it out in games such as kickball, giant jenga, dodgeball, cornhole, and trash can pong in an effort to foster
friendly competition on campus. Eastern’s coaches and Athletics staff were spotted playing cornhole to
show support for their athletes and join in on the fun!

Music and laughter filled the tennis court and turf areas as athletes competed in games different from
their own sport and cheered each other on. As games became close and neared the end of their time, teams buckled down on their strategies and looked for the best way to try and secure a win for their team.

Although on the outside, these Intramural games look like fun, they are also instrumental to improving the community of athletes. Team bonding is essential to developing a strong team that works well together and has a built up foundation of trust. These intramurals provide an outlet for teams to work
together in a new way that fosters teamwork while staying on campus and working together to compete.

The most recent event held on 10/10/2020 featured Chick-fil-a, kickball, cornhole and dodgeball. As many groups did not have enough members to field a full kickball team, athletes from multiple teams
joined forces against some larger teams on campus.

In the first game against baseball, women’s lacrosse, field hockey, soccer and some track members banded together to play and in the second game men’s golf was joined by softball, track and field and field hockey players to fill out a team playing against men’s volleyball.

While Eastern’s teams are competitive with one another, they are also each other’s biggest fans. Friend groups spread across numerous teams foster the friendly competition at athlete intramurals and in some cases create the most jeering and trash talk between the teams in an attempt to get a laugh out of others. At the end of the games, teams can be seen coming together in prayer to give thanks for the
opportunity to play and for the health and safety of the athletics program.

Upcoming SAAC events include wear pink day on October 14th. SAAC has asked that all athletes wear pink on October 14th in honor of breast cancer awareness month. The next Intramural day will be held on October 24th and will be Halloween themed. Look for more details on the SAAC instagram page @
eu.saac and ask your team representative for other important information.

Sources: EU SAAC

Inclusion in Athletics: How I navigate playing college softball with a hearing impairment.

Athletes who are hard of hearing playing at the collegiate level are few and far between when you look at universities outside of Gallaudet and RIT, schools whose programs are intrinsically inclusive because of their student population. Thankfully Eastern’s Softball program has adapted and proven that they are willing and able to provide an experience better than I could have imagined.

At the age of Four, I was diagnosed with a hearing loss. I have always been outgoing and loved to run
around and play games at school and began swimming and soccer at a young age. Swimming was easy to adapt to for my hearing loss as standard starting systems included a light that goes off as well to cue me to start a race. In soccer I played Goalie so that I could see the whole field.

In second grade I started playing softball and started to face some of the challenges that come with a hearing loss. When playing in the outfield, I could almost never hear my coach which prompted me to play third base in my first few years because when at our home field, our team bench was on the third base side. Batting was another challenge as players are required to wear a helmet which further restricts my ability to hear. This meant my coaches needed a way to communicate with me while at bat and on base and out in the field that did not rely on me being able to hear.

Communication is key to the game of Softball. How many outs there are, where the play priority is,
and general chatter between team mates on the field is essential to the success of the team. Hearing my
teammates call for a ball, or tell me they’ve got my back means avoiding collisions, laying out for a ball knowing that someone is there to have the others’ back if you miss, and knowing where to throw the ball that made it in the gap when my back is to the play. All of this chatter is key to the game.

But, when I can’t hear my teammates all the time, not because they’re quiet or soft spoken, but just because I can’t hear normally, softball can be both frustrating and challenging. The game becomes challenging and knowing what the coaches are saying from the bench can become almost impossible.

This is where hand signals became crucial. Over the years I have worked with my coaches to come up
with a set of hand signals to use to communicate which benefitted not only myself, but my whole team as well. On some teams I have used all hand signals where the coach would use their hands to tell me what to do by using predetermined signals that included fake signals to prevent other teams from catching on.

Other methods I have used are arm guards with number or number and color combos. Coaches typically
yell out those numbers or colors and the team can check their arm band for the play, but because these numbers are typically lost in the sound of the crowd or other team’s cheering, coaches will use a hand signal for the color and then flash the numbers with their hands to communicate with me.

As I got older, plays became more complex, and playing in the outfield became even more challenging,
so I transitioned to playing catcher. Although this may seem strange especially because it requires wearing a helmet the whole time, it was a position that is much more comfortable for me to play. Catching puts me in a position where I can see the whole field at once, and can hear my coaches a bit better from the bench. In many cases I am receiving a pitch call from my coach in the form of a hand signal to arm band format so that other teams won’t know what’s being thrown, and in some cases I call the game from behind the plate.

Though softball has not always been easy, I have been able to overcome the challenges of playing with
a hearing loss thanks to the unending support of the programs I have played for, awesome coaches, amazing team mates and supportive parents.

Tattoos & Piercings: Becoming Professional in the Next Generation

Tattoos and piercings belong in professional settings as they are a form of art that travels on human canvases. Millennials and Gen Z are beginning to change the stigma around tattoos and piercings in professional settings. Tattoos and piercings have been taboo in professional settings in the past due to the negative connotations directed towards tattoos and piercings from their representation of gang
affiliations and other history.

Tattoos have a rich history and some indigenous cultures, including the Maori tribes of New Zealand, who view tattoos as ritualistic and use them to tell a story of their heritage, accomplishments, and family. Tattoos are a symbol of status and tradition and have been making a comeback as a traditional form of art that Maori people and non-Maori people are all looking to receive.

Piercings have their own rich history and had their own symbols of status and are still a large part of the
culture of tribes in Africa. Most fascinating, the oldest mummy, Ötzi, who lived around 3,000 B.C. had pierced ears.

Today, tattoos and piercings are on the rise and more and more people are getting tattoos. I have three
tattoos and counting as well as some piercings, though not all of them are always visible. I know that over the course of considering my professional career, I have put more thought into where I wanted tattoos and piercings before going to have them done.

Tattoos and piercings are gaining popularity, and more specifically in younger generations born in 1990-
2000 as they begin to turn 18. The view of tattoos has shifted from taboo and reserved for gangs and bikers, to more and more mainstream and widely accepted.

Another shift in view is from dark and obscene to being viewed as a form of art. Other large groups of people who are commonly tattooed are members of the armed forces. Army, Airforce, Marines and Sailors seek out tattoos that carry meanings from their jobs, units, and special accolades. Many tattoos received by members of the Navy date back to maritime superstitions including rope representing
having served as a deckhand, and the sea swallows representing 5,000 nautical miles traveled.

I have tattoos that relate to my life and travel. I have a tattoo that is a representation of my love of ice hockey, and a tattoo in representation of my love of softball as well. Both of these tattoos I can choose when to show off as they are in locations on my body that are easily covered with clothing. My tattoo depicting my travels includes the outlines of the countries I traveled to and a sea swallow because I have traveled more than 5,000 nautical miles by boat. This tattoo is on my ankle, and I would need to use long pants or stockings to cover it, not that I would want to.

More professional workplaces should accept visible tattoos as more people who are preparing to enter the workforce are getting tattoos. Professional workplaces that do not allow visible tattoos or require tattoos to are covered are ostracizing a large, growing population. Tattoos live on for a generation and in many cultures, their traditions are passed down to the next generation.

NFL Week 1: Protests for Social Justice project a united front across the NFL as the season begins.

Pre-Game routines for the NFL will look different this season as more teams join in nationwide protests for social justice. Teams across the NFL recognize the need to protest during the national anthem and game play as part of their effort to demonstrate a united front against injustice in the United States.

Protests included remaining in the locker room for the anthem, taking a knee during kickoff, wearing
apparel that states “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name”, and taking a knee during the anthem, a sign of protest started by Colin Kapernick in 2016.

The NFL in the past has been hesitant to use their national platform to protest and even effectively pushed Kapernick out of the league for his kneeling during the anthem in 2016. Now in 2020, more
individual athletes, and teams as a whole are joining in the protests for justice.

In June of 2020, Roger Goodell in a press release apologized and recognized that the concerns brought
to light by Kapernick and other players should have been addressed and affirmed sooner by the NFL.

The NFL, in conjunction with team owners has also amend their Game Operations Manual to better respect the right to protest during the national anthem by remaining in the locker room, and has not
fined any players or teams for their participation in protests across the League. Players did not agree with this policy change, and the NFL Player’s Association is continuing to work on behalf of payers to ensure their voices are heard.

Sources: CBS News, The New York Times, Sporting News