Linfield sports to allow limited spring spectators

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Nathan Herde

Sophomore and two-time NWC pitcher of the week Tayah Kelley will throw in front a crowd for the first time this season as Linfield softball faces Lewis and Clark University in a weekend series at Del Smith Stadium.

Maddie Loverich, Sports Editor

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Spectators will now be allowed at outdoor spring sporting events for Northwest Conference schools, as announced by the NWC on April 5. Linfield University, in accordance with state and local health guidelines, will allow limited amounts of outside spectators by invitation only. 

Linfield Athletic Director Garry Killgore is excited to welcome fans back to campus.

“It’s been so long since we’ve been able to have a little bit of normalcy and this gets us back to that,” Killgore said. “It will bring out the best of our students-athletes to have fans supporting them from the stands.”

This new policy only applies to spring sports considered “Intermediate” or “Low Risk” activities, such as baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field. Each facility on campus has a specific capacity for spectators. 

Spectators will not be allowed at high-risk sporting events or indoor events, such as basketball or indoor tennis matches that take place in Rutschman Fieldhouse.

Attendees from outside of the Linfield community must be invited by student-athletes. Twenty-four hours before each competition, coaches will turn in a complete list of guests that will attend including contact details for each one.

In case contact tracing becomes necessary, seating charts will be used and fans must provide contact details, such as email address, phone number, and home address. Each fan must go through a COVID screening, which includes a temperature and symptom check, before entering the facility. 

There will also be space reserved for faculty, staff and students, who will also be subject to a COVID screening. No spectators from visiting teams will be allowed. 

Linfield softball has been ranked number one in the nation for three consecutive weeks by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and will play their first game in front of a crowd at home Saturday afternoon against Lewis and Clark College. Junior shortstop Katrina Johns says it’s a privilege to have fan support again.

“Everybody has worked so hard for us to get here, both on the team, our president, our athletic director, the coaches and the fans,” Johns said. “For that, our program couldn’t thank everyone enough. I’m excited to get the hype back in the stadium for Catball!”

While in attendance, fans must wear a mask the entire time and are required to follow social distancing guidelines.Each facility will have signs and measured markings to show appropriate distancing. Food and drink will not be allowed. 

If fans refuse to follow guidelines, Linfield’s game-day staff will be given full authority to ask them to leave the facility. If problems persist and multiple violations occur, rules for  spectators may be re-evaluated for the entire athletic program.

“The biggest challenge that remains is that we are almost home as a community,” Killgore said, reflecting on a full year of required mask and social distancing guidelines. “Please help us to finish. We’re not finished with this race yet.” 

“I’d love to see people make it through spring semester and May term without having to pause the whole school again,” he said. “All that means is that everyone has to be ‘All In.’”

Yamhill County is currently in the “Low Risk” category for COVID-19 transmission. Risk levels are re-evaluated by the state of Oregon every two weeks and, should the risk level rise before the end of the spring season, spectators rules will similarly be re-evaluated. 

However, Yamhill County was recently placed on a warning, which means that if the area’s case numbers don’t improve, the risk level will bump up to “Moderate”. According to Killgore, this could change the ability of spectators to attend competitions for both Linfield and neighboring George Fox University.