Maryville College’s student athletes and coaches adjust to the changes in fall sports

After a summer of unforeseen events, Maryville College made the difficult decision to postpone fall sports. However, the school is now proceeding with a plan this semester to get fall athletes ready for competition in the spring.

The soccer, volleyball, cross country, football, and basketball teams were all looking forward to having some normalcy and competing this fall. Throughout the summer, athletes continued to stay in shape and prepare as if the season would continue as scheduled. The decision was not made quickly, but as COVID-19 cases continued to rise it became apparent that sports would not be able to safely return this fall. 

“Playing our sport and competing is just part of our DNA,” said Athletic Director Kandis Schram. “However, I am extremely proud that the need to protect our student athletes has always been at the center of every decision.”

 Head soccer coach Pepe Fernandez is explaining drills to his team.
Photo taken by Grant Agnew

As a way to combat the move of fall sports to the spring, the NCAA has allowed teams to begin practicing and training this semester. This will be the first time in nearly six months that teams have met. 

Participating in these workouts will not affect any athlete’s eligibility. Every team is splitting their athletes into small groups and holding workouts with masks and physical distancing regulations. The USA South Conference is currently working on putting together competition schedules. 

“Practices have started, and they do look different,” said senior goalkeeper Abbey Coleman. “It’s somewhat disappointing to not be able to really practice or scrimmage as a team, but it’s still nice to be around everyone.”

The pause in fall sports has not been an entirely negative transition. Coaches have another offseason to prepare their teams. Student athletes can spend more time taking care of their bodies and working on the “student” part of their game. 

“This has given us a unique time to focus on fitness and technical details,” Coleman said. “This semester is very heavy for me academically, so the extra free time isn’t going to [be a] waste for me.”

This fall semester looks different than in years past, especially without any sports being played on campus. However, the mission and goal of every student athlete has not changed. Coaches are still pushing their athletes to be the best version of themselves in everything they do. 

“Every day that I see students on campus attending classes—training with their teams, engaged in community service, and working toward their degree—is an awesome day,” Schram said. “I know we will be able to compete again, hopefully someday soon.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has given many the opportunity to grow. People are experiencing a lot of changes and uncertainty in life right now, and student athletes are no exception. The best way to keep sports on its scheduled return date, is by continuing to adhere to campus, state and federal COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.

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