Fay O’Donnell, who was a standout runner at Mt. Ararat, will attend Bowdoin College in the fall. However, competitive running will have to wait as the school has canceled sports until at least Jan. 1. Submitted photo

 

BRUNSWICK —  Fay O’Donnell is excited she will get to experience some form of campus life when she enrolls as a freshman at Bowdoin College in the fall.

She will be in a dorm and, as a first-year student, will experience a whole new level of independence.

What the Mt. Ararat graduate won’t be able to do is compete on the Polar Bears’ cross country team after the college announced Monday it had canceled the fall sports season and halted all athletics until at least Jan. 1.

Further, Bowdoin also announced it is keeping the majority of its students away from campus because of the coronavirus pandemic. Only freshmen and a handful of seniors will be allowed on campus in the fall.

For athletes like O’Donnell, the cancelation means more individual training.

Fay O’Donnell, who was a standout runner at Mt. Ararat, will attend Bowdoin College in the fall. However, competitive running will have to wait as the school has canceled sports until at least Jan. 1. Submitted photo

“I’m sad that there won’t be a season, but it’s good that there is a plan,” O’Donnell said. “Right now I am just waiting for a training schedule.”

The decision to cancel the fall sports season — and some of the winter — leaves some student-athletes pondering their futures.

Bowdoin women’s basketball junior Anika Helmke, for example, said she is trying to weigh her options.

“We have a team meeting to let everyone react and process it,” Helmke said. “It’s still too early to make a decision but we opened it up to everyone and let everyone answer.”

Helmke and O’Donnell both said the announcement, which they received in an email, was far from surprising.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Thank God,’” O’Donnell said. “I know the plan now. I anticipated it but now it’s all in the open.”

Added Helmke: “We are all trying to be optimistic, but realistically this whole pandemic isn’t a couple of months thing. We are aware of the fact that we aren’t allowed on campus until January, but going from that to plating a full-contact sport seems a little far-fetched to me.”

Helmke added that she is planning on taking courses remotely, at least for now.

O’Donnell was looking forward to running with former teammates, but that, too, has been put on hold.

“I’m bummed not to have the upperclassmen up here,” O’Donnell said. “I have a couple friends who are juniors there and I feel bad, it’s a whole different experience.”

O’Donnell has been in touch with track coach Lara-Jane Que and cross country coach Peter Slovenski recently. O’Donnell has been working out on her own, running three-to-four miles a day with some speed workouts and cross training mixed in. She was also training for the Beach to Beacon before it was canceled.

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