The 2021 Colonial Athletic Association women’s basketball championship will be held at Elon University. This announcement comes after the 2020 CAA tournament lasted only one day before the decision was made to cancel the remainder of the games due concerns over the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Elon women’s basketball head coach Charlotte Smith said she knew there was a possibility that the 2020 tournament could be canceled heading into day two, but the news was still devastating. However, Smith also said she and her team are excited over the CAA’s decision to bring the 2021 CAA tournament back to Elon.
“We were all super excited, elated to have the opportunity to host because it was something that we all were looking forward to,” Smith said. “And then when it was finally announced this past week, when we were on our Zoom call with the team, they were super excited and looking forward to being able to host a conference tournament again.”
The decision to have Elon host the 2021 conference championship was made on Thursday, April, 9. According to the CAA’s press release, the conference’s 10 athletic directors expressed their support for this decision. As a result, the next four schools scheduled to host the championship will be pushed back one year.
Smith expressed gratitude for the commissioners that voted to bring the tournament back to Elon.
“We’re just grateful for everybody that voted in terms of returning the conference tournament,” Smith said. “And that’s the thing I love about the CAA and the people that are a part of the CAA. We are a family and we try to do things that accommodate the greater good.”
The first two games of the tournament were played on Wednesday, March 11. Prior to the start of games on the second day of the tournament, the decision was made to cancel the remainder of the scheduled games.
The Elon women’s basketball team was one of the four teams that played on the first day of the tournament, defeating Hofstra University 71-51. The team was scheduled to play against the second-seeded James Madison University in the quarterfinals. After the team’s win against Hofstra, Smith said that playing at home felt different from playing in previous tournaments despite winning two conference championships away from Elon.
“I can't necessarily say that there's an advantage because we won at JMU and at Drexel back to back championships, but it does definitely feel good to be home,” Smith said.
With the return of the tournament, sophomore guard Kayla Liles says that the Phoenix have another opportunity to reach a goal they had set out prior to last season.
“Since the beginning of the season, since we knew we were hosting, we talked about cutting down our own nets,” Liles said. “We wanted to make history this year, so as it was canceled, we didn’t get a chance to. So I think that us hosting again next year we actually have a chance to make history.”
While junior guard Ariel Colón said she was uncertain about when the team would be back, she said that this second opportunity is very meaningful for the team.
“It’s like the fire hasn’t really gone anywhere, so just coming back with that and knowing that we are going to host is very exciting for us,” Colón said. “I think everyone is going to be really excited about that coming into practice.”