The cancellation and postponement of sports last spring left many wondering what the fall season would look like and if there would be season for fall sports.
The MIAA has decided to delay the start of fall sports until September and the start of football until October due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Well, I think the most important thing is the health and safety of everybody… obviously the student athletes but the faculty, the staff.., all the people that work on campus,” said Kim Anderson, head men’s basketball coach. “I thought it was a good idea when it was presented because I think it gives student athletes as well as students a chance to get back on campus and maybe get acclimated a little bit to kind of a new type of teaching. I know there’s different types of classes now from online, to hyflex, to hybrid, to face-to-face. So, I think what has to be done is whatever’s necessary. We don’t control COVID-19; COVID-19 controls us right now and I think our administrators made a good decision in deciding to delay it a little bit and still be able to play fall sports.”
Delaying the start of the season for fall sports will in turn make the fall seasons shorter than they typically are.
“Well, it’s obviously going to be shorter,” said Russ Jewett, head cross country coach. “There’s going to be so much, probably, attention paid to things to do to mitigate the COVID situation. It will be different in that way obviously. But one way it’s similar is that there will just be big challenges. We always have challenges. That’s part of athletics, that’s part of the experience, part of the growth… This is just a big, big challenge, bigger than normal, to operate in this circumstance with the pandemic still kind of looming. That’s just going to be a different kind of challenge rather than the injuries, typically illnesses, the other things that we encounter, it’s going to be the COVID thing and how we have to behave differently and change a lot of things about how we practice and still be able to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves.”
Jewett is happy that athletes will get to have a season and that there are plans in place to keep everyone safe.
“Well, it’s not like we didn’t see it coming,” Jewett said. “We saw all these other conferences in division II and also on division I totally cancelling fall sports. So, I’m proud of our administration for being proactive and not just waiting around to see what others do and see how many more people cancel the fall season. So I’m really proud of our administration, Dr. Scott and Jim Johnson, in getting a proactive plan in place and helping our conference to lead the way on folks that decide we’re gonna have a season this fall but we’re gonna make some adjustments to make sure we do have a season that we start it and finish it. That’s a great effort on our part. So, that’s how I feel about it. It’s not perfect but at least it’s a plan, a vision for having a season in which your student athletes can train and compete and be as safe as possible under the circumstances.”
Head volleyball coach Jen Gomez is also grateful for the opportunity to have a fall season and have the athletes compete.
“Well, we’re all really just grateful that we’re still gonna have a fall season and I think that for volleyball and football and cross country at Pitt State, we’re all looking forward to playing, we’re looking forward to competing,” Gomez said. “I think we’re feeling like this still gives us that chance. When there’s other conferences that have decided they’re not going to, I’m really happy that the MIAA has said that we’re gonna be one of the front runners and say we can do this, we can keep our athletes safe and still have a season. So, I’m happy with it.”
It’s hard to predict what the fall season is going to be due to some much being unknown according to Gomez.
“I think some of this unknown… and we don’t know how it’s all gonna play out yet because there’s just so many factors that can play into this,” Gomez said. “But we all know it’s gonna be different but it doesn’t change, hopefully, the fact that we still get to play volleyball and we know how to play volleyball… and as long as there’s measures in place that we can still do that with the same sort of semblance that we’ve done before, I think we’re all happy about that but I know that we’re looking at things differently already as far as the standpoint of we’re not getting the same number of competition dates and that’s fine. I mean it’s hopefully just for this year but I think it’s something that we all just have to put our best foot forward and deal with and make the best of the situation we’re in and really be thankful for the ability to play.”
Anderson also thinks the fall season is going to be different, however the extent of those differences is unknown.
“I think it’s obviously going to be different,” Anderson said. “I don’t think we really know. I think that anyone that says they know what’s going on with the virus probably is not telling the truth because again I think we have to approach every day, every week and the people in charge have to make tough decision. So, I’m sure if you look at it now in late July and say well they’re gonna start playing football in October and then three games that were at the beginning of the year didn’t get played, how are they gonna play those, are they gonna play those, will they be able to play the games and the same thing goes with all of our other sports, especially our fall sports volleyball, cross country. Those sports are also impacted too. So, I think it’s gonna be different. I think it’s gonna be kind of a work in progress and I think probably the key word for all of this is we’re gonna have to be flexible and it will be different from a practice standpoint, to a competition standpoint, will there be fans in the stands..?”
Anderson hopes everyone will “stay safe.”
“…Wear a mask, practice social distancing, follow the recommendations that everyone’s made and let’s hope that works and that the virus flattens out again and not only can we have sports, but we can have a normal school year,” Anderson said. “I think that’s really important too.”