A Hopeful Fall for John Jay Athletics

Nina Megna, Writer

Fall 2021 is beginning to look very promising for the athletics community at John Jay, as CUNY plans for a bigger re-opening. With news of more in-person classes being offered in the Fall, the athletics community is just inches away from the official green light.

Interim Director of Athletics, Mark Francis, brings some clarity to the big question, “Will we be back to sports officially in Fall 2021?” Francis answers the question of return to sports with a positive stance, “It’s unofficial-official, because EDC and the Chancellor met with the Athletics Directors and did say we will be back but the presidents have not yet stated it. CUNY and the CUNYAC Conference do expect us to be back as well.”

Francis has been the Interim Director of Athletics, Recreation, & Intramurals, since January 6, 2020. He has done tremendous work stepping into such a big role and supervising the 15 sports offered on campus. He notably kept up with the chaos of shifting to a virtual world.

While reflecting on the past year, Francis states that “Switching to the virtual setting did not eliminate the volume of work that has to be done. But what it did eliminate was the enjoyment from watching students and staff engage in competition. But the behind the scenes of what makes athletics run, continues.”

Women’s Interim Head Soccer Coach Ajani Clunie offers some insight on what it has been like having Francis lead our Athletics Community during COVID-19. “Not only has he been a huge support of the soccer programs at John Jay, Mark has helped to ensure all coaches were working during the pandemic, which allowed them to support their student athletes more during a difficult year.”

Francis has been working with the athletics community towards various safety protocols for when we finally return to sports. He explains, “We are working diligently so that we return safely and that we have the kinds of competition that we had prior to the pandemic. The significant changes will be in regard to safety protocols such as masks, equipment, and the cleaning of contact areas.”

Francis also elaborates on a key factor that will aid us upon returning this Fall. He states, “One of the things that is working in our favor upon returning, is our relationship with public safety, who are working with us to make sure that we can come back safely.”

With this “unofficial-official” news of a return for athletics, the community can’t help but smile in anticipation. Even just having a taste of reconnecting has brought gratitude to our teams. A few teams were able to meet on campus within the past few weeks, following safety guidelines and protocols, the process turned out to be very rewarding.

John Jay Men’s Basketball was one of the first three teams that got to take part in this special opportunity. Head Coach Ryan Hyland speaks on this stating, “It was really meaningful to reunite our team in person following the 402 days away from each other. Although we are still a long way away from returning to normal, being in the same room with their teammates allowed our guys a couple hours of camaraderie and brotherhood that they are so used to being a part of while here at John Jay.”

Hyland adds, “We were able to have a deeper and more impactful conversation in person on April 12th than we were ever able to achieve during our various Zoom meetings over the last year plus.”

This is just one of the various examples as to why returning to sports means so much to the athletics community. It  is so much more than just a game for all 15 of our athletic teams. Hyland emphasized the significance of the time he got to spend with his team saying, “Personally it was one of the best days that I’ve been able to be a part of while employed at John Jay, I finally felt like their coach again for the first time in a year.”

With the future of athletics continuing to look brighter, team meetings and participation in play, athletics will start to become a reoccurring and normal thing once more. Upon the subject of returning to normal Francis gives some advice to the athletics community.

Francis states, “When the athletes come back, they need to embrace the opportunity for success that will be in-front of them. The time away increases one’s love for the sport that you participate in and you come back with that desire to be successful, the desire to perform.”

He also adds, “But also you must be mindful of the fact that you have been away and must take care of your body, so that your success comes along with your good health.