The Varsity and Intramural sports competition seasons were canceled at FSU this fall due to COVID-19, but practices are still underway with safety restrictions.
Games for every fall varsity sports team were suspended this year, according to an email all students received from President F. Javier Cevallos.
The decision was made by Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC).
Cevallos said student athletes are still participating in on-campus, in-person practices and conditioning sessions during this semester.
The sports canceled this semester were men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, and intramural sports.
In his email, Cevallos stated, “This is not a decision that the conference took lightly. But after careful consideration, it was determined that there is no way to hold a fall sports season without risking the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and the community at large.”
According to Cevallos, no decision has been made on winter and spring sports.
Assistant Athletic Director Kathy Lynch said the new policies are state guidelines to keep everyone safe while still holding practices.
“Right now, the Fall and Spring teams have started undergoing strength and conditioning sessions though they have to listen to the limitations according to the state guidelines,” said Lynch.
According to Lynch, each fall sport team practices three to four days a week with two- to three-hour block times each day. Each team is focusing on skill development.
Lynch wants FSU athletes to remember to “Play for the Future.”
FSU Intramural Sports Coordinator, James Rippey, said, “Unfortunately with the COVID-19 preventive restrictions implemented this fall, we are not able to provide our traditional slate of Intramural offerings.”
Rippey said, “We are optimistic about being able to resume next semester with basketball, indoor soccer, volleyball, and floor hockey.”
A number of seniors and captains said they have been greatly affected by the competitive season’s cancellation.
Senior Field Hockey Captain Maddy Pimental said, “We are still practicing Monday through Wednesday and working extra hard on conditioning for next year.”
Pimental said she and her fellow captains are using this season as a way to get the other non-seniors and most importantly, the freshmen, prepared and ready for next year.
“It is what you make of it this year – the school giving us an opportunity as much as they can to practice with one another,” said Pimental.
Men’s Cross Country Captain Kevin Durant said, “This semester definitely is weird, but we are thinking of it like it’s our regular season. We are practicing every day to get better.”
A number of athletes said they are still very fortunate to practice and be with their teams this season in a safe and fun way.
Senior Volleyball Captain Morgan Failla said she is focused on pursuing goals and team unity this season.
Failla said, “We make time to hang out as a team, go over goals as a team, get to know the three freshmen this year, and we get to know new people.”
Women’s Cross Country Captain Eliza Weisse said, “As a captain, I am trying to stay on top of things for the team – like organizing runs outside of practice, reminding everyone of Zoom meetings, and encouraging everyone to go out for a run whenever they can.”
Each team captain said the important part of this season is to be positive and focus on the ways each player can improve and become a better individual player.
Women’s Soccer Captain Jasmine Lees said, “We are trying to keep a positive vibe throughout this season. By making the practices fun and just living in the moment, we will make this season positive.”
Lees said although this experience can be negative at times, you need to try to keep the positive energy up and work hard now to be even better by next fall.
COVID-19 regulations are affecting coaches as well as players.
Scott VanderMolen, coach for the women’s and men’s cross country teams, said it’s been a difficult transition, but he has more time now to reflect on past seasons and add to his workouts.
VanderMolen said, “We miss competing against other people for sure. I feel really fortunate that cross country and track are both sports where you compete against yourself and the clock.”
A message VanderMolen relayed to his athletes was, “Be adaptable, be patient, and be prepared for the opportunity to compete again.”
Football Coach Aynsley Rosenbaum said while his team is not holding practices, they are meeting to work out in pods of 10 people with masks on.
Rosenbaum’s advice to the players was, “Be diligent in your studies and safety. Stay in shape. Always be your best self. If you need help or need to talk, just call me.”
According to team captains, players are practicing alone at their own pace these days due to COVID-19 reducing their practice times with their teams.
Durant said he is focused on “playing” the sport he loves while living at home. “For cross country, all you need for exercises is some road or dirt to run on.”
Lees said staying positive is what her team is striving for – they are making their practices fun and living in the moment as much as they can.
“We are bummed, but we are trying to make the best out of a rough situation. We are practicing three times a week and we have a team meeting on Zoom every week as well,” said Lees.
For unity, Lees said her team goes on runs together as a time to bond and work together.
A number of players said they miss their games and the joy of the sport with their family and fans watching them.
“I miss the feeling of waiting at the start line for the gun to go off,” Durant said. “I also miss the final 600 meters of the race when everyone is cheering you on.”
Lees said, “I miss the game more than anything. Soccer has always been a constant in my life, an escape. Not being able to have this through this really difficult time really tests me.”
Failla said, “I miss it so much – the idea of not having fans and the energy and being in a gym during a game day. You can’t emulate that kind of excitement or energy in practice.”
A number of captains said they understand canceling the competitions for everyone’s safety. Others, however, said they wished competitions could have still been held.
Pimental said she agrees in some cases with why MASCAC canceled their games, but she sees other schools still competing, so it is a “toss up.”
Weisse agrees with the conference’s reasons for canceling their competitions, “It is safest for everyone to not be in close contact with one another so we can stop the spread.”
Lees said, “No, I do not agree that our sport should be canceled. If professional sports can play and high school sports can play, then we should’ve been allowed to play.”
Although Men’s Soccer Captain Dante Vincenzo Mancini is only a sophomore, he still had words of wisdom about the future of his team.
“We are continuing to train, whether it be in small groups or individually,” said Mancini. “Saying that, I made sure to emphasize to the guys that this situation only gives us an opportunity to progress as a team and get better for the next season.”
Mancini said he is not going to take his last years at FSU for granted after witnessing what the seniors this year have gone through.
According to Mancini, it is all about taking it day-by-day and progressing as a player for yourself and the team for next season.
Football Captain Joshua Jamal Onujiogu said his team is concentrating on team unity and sticking together this season.
“We are focusing on lifting and getting ready for the next season,” said Onujiogu. “That’s all we can do.”
Onujiogu said football is “all about” the off season, so athletes have to focus on being better in the future.
“Just stay positive and time will show how badly you want to succeed,” said Onujiogu.
[Editor’s Note: Kathleen Moore is Design Editor of The Gatepost and a member of the Women’s Cross Country team.]