Although Barnard College sophomore McKinlee Morris was able to reside on campus starting with the spring 2021 semester, she did not see sports competition until earlier this month. Barnard student-athletes compete as part of the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium, and Ivy League institutions did not participate in sports during the 2020–21 academic year.

Indoor track and field season began with the Bill Ward Invitational hosted by St. John’s University at the Ocean Breeze facility in Staten Island and the Yale Season Opener in New Haven.

“There was a lot of excitement,” Morris said. “I feel the pandemic really impacted the upper class students, which is understandable because they’ve had to take an almost two-year break. I think it’s been a little bit rough for them, but underclassmen have been uplifting them. The spirit of the team is really thriving right now.”

Morris is a thrower, who prior to intercollegiate competition did the shot put and discus, and is now also learning the hammer and weight.

“What made me choose Barnard was my host when I came for my official visit. She really expressed the community of Barnard and the girls here. That really intrigued me,” said Morris, who is doing a five-year bachelors/masters program. Her undergraduate degree will be in economics and her graduate degree in industrial engineering. She hopes she’ll be granted eligibility to compete her fifth year.   

“It means a lot [to be a Barnard student-athlete],” she added. “I feel Barnard is underrepresented in the athletic field. … It allows me to educate people about who and what Barnard is.”

Morris said intercollegiate competition is more pressure than she’s previously experienced, but she was ready. “My coach talked to all of us and explained the competition is really important, but how you prepare for that is even more important,” she said. “That’s what really helped me during the competition and entering a new phase of competing.

“It was a little intimidating, but I think I held myself together,” she added. “What really drove me was I haven’t competed in so long, so I was ready to compete.

“I’ve been doing track since I was like eight years old, so I always had the cycle of time to train, time to compete and it’s been continuous. The break actually helped me to regroup and become ready again to compete.”

After finishing her finals earlier this week, Morris headed home to St. Louis to spend time with her family. She returns to campus about a week before the semester starts. Track and field team resumes competition on Jan. 15 with the TCNJ Lions Indoor Invite at the Armory. 

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