Eastern Mennonite University's women's basketball team, here in a fall semester intrasquad scrimmage, opened their season last weekend. All of their home games will be livestreamed. (Photo by Jared Oyer)

Spring Athletics Update: Watch our Royals in action online; Kratz to join Jan. 27 Fireside Gathering

As he settled into his courtside seat on Saturday in Yoder Arena, James DeBoer had a smile on his face.

“I’ve missed seeing our Royals in action, and even though the gym won’t be full of spectators, I’m happy we’re giving our teams the chance to compete,” says EMU’s director of athletics communication. “These young men and women came to EMU to learn and grow, and while they could still do some of that during the fall practices, it’s been 10 long months since they’ve been able to really get out there and prove themselves in their respective sports.”

DeBoer will need your prayers this semester, as all 19 of the Royals athletic teams will be in action during a five-month time period.

His 12th year in the role promises to be a challenge: DeBoer, who was no slacker in normal pre-COVID times, will be hard at work 24-7 managing media relations, collecting stats at home games, writing and publishing game communications, populating the athletics social media accounts, communicating information with the NCAA, nominating student-athletes for awards, and also overseeing the expanded video webstreaming.

Isaac Alderfer after his one-mile race at the Keydet Invitational (Photo by Randall Wolf)

Saturday’s Keydet Invitational was the first competition of the semester marking the return of Royals athletes, and a trio of track and field competitors either set new personal records or performed near their best in races that included D-1 competition. Junior runner Isaac Alderfer provided a highlight, dropping his best mile time by nine seconds and inching within a few seconds (2.12 seconds, to be specific) of the program record. It was also the top time in the nation from last weekend’s meets.

Director of Athletics Dave King is also ready to see EMU athletes back in action — the result of many meetings and a coordinated effort among his own staff, the ODAC and NCAA over the past several months.

At the same time, he knows many parents and fans will be disappointed with the limitations and restrictions related to spectating (read more specifics below). 

“Everyone who loves sports, and especially those fans who enjoy watching their son or daughter, has a new awareness of what being in the stands means,” King said. “I realize that not being able to watch and cheer in person is disappointing, but it’s a small sacrifice to make so that they and their teammates can continue to compete.”

EMU hosted two home openers for the women’s and men’s basketball team on Saturday. [Follow the link for season previews for the women and men.] All home games are closed to the public, per ODAC policy.

Check the website for all team schedules and updates related to cancellations or postponements. Video webstreaming is available.

Read on for more information about how to watch competitions this season. 

ODAC Indoor Sports Spectator Policy

The Old Dominion Athletic Conference has announced a policy that prohibits spectators at any conference indoor athletic event this spring. The decision was made by the Presidents Council and announced last week. This decision affects all conference indoor sports including basketball, indoor track & field, swimming, and volleyball.

ODAC officials will continue to monitor the public health situation and are not ruling out the possibility of a change to the policy. 

EMU Outdoor Sports Spectator Policy TBA

A policy for spectators at outdoor sports events will be announced shortly.

“We are exploring what might be possible with the priority being the continued health and safety of our student-athletes,” King said. “One possibility is designated viewing locations marked on the grass or in the bleachers. If this is allowed, we’d also need to minimize interaction, which means spectators would be asked to leave the venue before teams exit the field.”

Because of physical distancing measures, the number of spectators would be limited as well.

Even if spectating in person is permitted, King encourages Royals fans to consider viewing the competitions via video webstream as “a personal contribution to keeping our student-athletes healthy and on the field, reaping the benefits of their hard work and enjoying the sport they love.”

Watch Video Webstreamed Competitions

EMU will offer free video webstreams of all home indoor and outdoor contests, weather permitting. Click here to access video links to EMU’s home games.

Road games are subject to the host institution, with most if not all games expected to be streamed. When available, both video and live stats links will be accessible from a team’s schedule page on www.EMUroyals.com.

Next Athletics Fireside Gathering: Jan. 27, 7 p.m.

EMU Athletics will host its third “Fireside Gathering” on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.  Recently retired MLB player and EMU Hall of Honor member Erik Kratz is the featured speaker. Follow this link to register.

Kratz, a 2002 alumnus, will recount how EMU helped prepare him for a career in professional baseball. He retired this offseason after 19 years in professional baseball, including 11 seasons in the Major Leagues. Kratz was also a member of Team USA, playing in the Premier 12 tournament and being named to the All-World Baseball Team in 2019. He was EMU’s Alumnus of the Year that same year.

Here’s coverage of the Nov. 6 event and the Dec. 9 event.