HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — RIT hockey fans will not see their teams play this winter, as the college announced Monday that all winter sports will be canceled.
The decision comes after the Liberty League, which RIT is a member of at the Divison III level, chose not to hold winter sports this year.
Men’s and women’s hockey are the only Division I sports at RIT. Their conferences, Atlantic Hockey and College Hockey America respectively, are planning on playing this year. However, RIT decided it would be safest to not participate in the season.
The athletic department’s statement shared this quote from RIT’s Executive Director of Athletics, Lou Spiotti Jr, regarding the decision to include hockey in the cancelation:
“Campus leadership has been meeting regularly to discuss the prospect of safely conducting winter sports competitions under the backdrop of extensive NCAA, New York State, Department of Health and university guidelines aimed at keeping our community safe. In spite of our efforts, the virus continues to spread throughout the region and we could not justify a season of competition for any of our teams.”RIT Executive Director of Athletics Lou Spiotti Jr.
The men’s hockey team is now fighting to play their season as long. The campaign started with a statement tweeted by senior Jake Hamacher, which was retweeted over 200 times.
The team has created a petition in hopes of getting RIT leadership to change its decision. As of Tuesday night, the petition had gained over 2,500 signatures in less than eight hours.
The team’s seniors say that they have been training since mid-August and have been practicing for the last two months and have zero COVID cases in their program.
“We got to school, we got to campus, we had all these hoops to jump through to keep continuing to work out, to continue to get on the ice,” says Hamacher. “We jumped through those because we knew that this was a sacrifice we wanted to make, to have a season. And then to have it just end so suddenly, it was a tough pill to swallow.”
“[The cancelation] just hurts so much for us after the last three-and-a-half months of doing everything that the school has asked us and boasting that number of zero cases.” says senior assistant captain Dan Willett. “It’s tough that with the season right around the corner, we were supposed to play this Friday. It wasn’t a good thing to hear for anybody.”
The team is meeting with RIT’s leadership on Wednesday and will state their case why they should be able to play their season.
“We want them to know that we would be willing to jump through any hoop and do what ever it is possible to make this season happen, no matter what the cost is for us,” says Willett. “So we’re just hoping that they can go into the meeting with an open mind and just understand coming from our standpoint how much this is affecting our lives in their decison.”
Another factor in the team’s case is that the student body will be leaving the campus in two weeks until January, creating a sort of a “bubble” that the team could safely live and compete in.