Over the course of the past six months, there has not been a single Slippery Rock athletic team that has played. In the spring, sports were canceled and at the time there was hope for those seasons to be played in some fashion. At the time, it looked as if those sports could be played in front of no fans. But reality soon hit the entire country and things were put in perspective a lot more.
Life as we know it has been altered and the date for it to go back to normal has not been set yet, but as time goes on it starts to become less hopeful that the day normal life comes back is anytime soon. When normal life went in early March, so did Slippery Rock sports. And since then, every sport from baseball to football to field hockey and soccer has been canceled. And the cases of COVID-19 that have popped up in Slippery Rock and other schools that are in the PSAC have made it obvious that the decision to postpone the fall seasons was the right one.
“It’s been difficult not seeing my best friends every day and not having a set time to work out, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone every day and I know practices are serious but they’re like an outlet, and I’m really looking forward to having that outlet that I don’t have right now again,” Sophomore women’s soccer player Kayla Swope said.
Swope played a pivotal part in The Rock women’s soccer team’s success last fall and helped led them to a PSAC championship. Swope scored the game-winning goal against Edinboro in the championship game and Swope scored in an NCAA playoff game, and anyone in the stands at those games probably would not have thought that those would be the last goals she would score for over a year for The Rock.
Because of COVID-19, teams haven not been able to have the entire team on the field for a practice since March and by the time any sport is played at Slippery Rock, it will have been nearly a year since those teams last played an organized game. The last organized games that were played were the end of the winter season. The last games that were played at Morrow Field House were on February 29, when both the men’s and women’s basketball teams dropped contests to Mercyhurst. But the last time that teams who were supposed to play in the fall, such as the women’s soccer team, was able to have a full team practice was around that same time.
“When you spend all year preparing for something and it just doesn’t happen, it kind of hurts and Every time you work out, you’re working towards a football season and for it not to happen it just sucks,” Junior football player Nick Stazer said. “There’s a lot of things in life that we take for granted, like being able to go see my grandparents and now I haven’t been able to see them in long time and I’m thankful to have such a great family that I want to go visit.”
Teams have had to adapt to the changes that this has brought one way or another, and those changes have included a lot of the same as students who do not play sports. For some, they may never play another game or have another match for The Rock. For example, Pia Bruckmayer who played for The Rock tennis team but was never able to get a full season under her belt at Slippery Rock.
COVID-19 has changed the entire landscape of all sports, and that does not exclude Slippery Rock. This stretch will be the longest seen in a long time without any Rock sports playing. The Rock football team last played a game on December 14, and that game was a semi-final to the National Championship, so the layoff for most teams in the PSAC will have been well over a year by the time spring rolls around.
“It’s definitely been hard and I think I speak for all athletes when I say that we miss being in that competitive atmosphere, and it’s been especially hard for our team because we love spending as much time as we can together during practices and lifts, but it has been nice because we’re finding new ways to be active and we can still have small group lifts and sessions on the field, but it has definitely been a challenge,” Junior women’s soccer player Jordyn Minda said.
Minda, like Swope, was a huge part of the team’s success last season and a year after being named first-team All PSAC, Minda has not been able to be on the field in a competitive game with The Rock since the loss in the NCAA tournament back in November.
The hope is that in the spring, things will get better and there will be some form of a season for those fall sports that were not able to play. But there is also the possibility that we will not see spring sports for the second straight year due to COVID-19. As of now, nothing is set in stone and nothing will be as the climate will need to be seen closer to the date that sports are supposed to start. If sports are able to be played in the spring, there would likely be abbreviated versions of the volleyball, football, women’s and men’s soccer, and all other fall seasons.
Through all of the uncertainty, one thing remains certain and that is that someday Rock sports will be back, and we will be back to seeing our favorite teams on the field or the court. But until then, players will continue to push through like they have. But as that time continues to go by, it solidifies that everyone misses Rock sports.