It’s abnormal for college sports to have both a fall and spring season, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, having any sort of normality is rare.
As a result, four UNC sports — men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball — are playing both a fall and spring season.
“It’s historic,” field hockey head coach Karen Shelton said about playing two seasons in one year.
The move means being able to play more competitive games in the period of a year and staying in game shape, instead of just playing in the fall and practicing the rest of the year. Shelton said she likes this model more and thinks it’s better for all parties involved.
“If we could change the model, this is actually a healthier way to do it,” Shelton said. "It’s more fun for the athletes and it’s healthier for Olympic development.”
Following a win against Louisville on March 5, junior field hockey forward Erin Matson said playing competitive games in the spring allows teams to continue to improve their chemistry against high-level opponents.
“We learned a lot in the fall, and we worked through a lot of challenges,” Matson said. “Now we can focus a little more on field hockey and how the team looks and how we’re bonding and working together. It’ll be fun, and everyone’s in a really great mood just because it’s different that we get another season.”
Despite the benefits, playing both a fall and spring season and then turning around to prepare for another campaign in the ensuing fall is a grueling task most college athletes haven’t done since high school.
“It’s a long season, it’s year-round, which on one hand is really good,” junior men’s soccer goalkeeper Alec Smir said. “At the same time, though, it’s a lot. It keeps going in a way, so it’s hard to stay motivated like you are in a single semester.”