When cases of COVID-19 flooded the world last March, Utah Valley University finished the semester online and all UVU sports were canceled, a wave of uncertainty swept over both students and faculty. Now, five months after the switch to online schooling and the shutdown of all UVU athletics, uncertainty is still present.
Nevertheless, there are some things that we do know. As of June 1, the NCAA has granted permission for teams to meet and train together voluntarily. Many UVU athletes have taken advantage of this and have been training hard as they wait to learn if they will be competing this fall.
Clint Burgi, a sports information director for men’s soccer, women’s basketball and softball at UVU, stated that teams are planning on playing as usual — but that is subject to change. With that said, so far the UVU’s women’s soccer team has been the only team on campus to release a schedule, their first game coming August 13 against Weber State. When asked why other teams haven’t released a schedule yet, Burgi said that UVU will follow any policy created by either the NCAA or the WAC conference, so UVU’s athletics department is waiting for more news to know what fall sports will look like. The fate of fall sports may come down to what the WAC decides.
While athletes wait for more news, some ideas have surfaced from around the country that show what sports could look like this fall. One conference has suggested starting seasons in September to give more time to fight the virus. Another has considered moving fall sports to the spring. The Ivy League has already decided to cancel its entire slate of sports programs for the year 2020. Another proposed idea has been for schools to only participate in one sport per semester. For example, soccer would be the only sport on campus during the fall, and basketball the only sport during the winter.
Any athlete, student or faculty member who is disheartened because of the effects of the coronavirus may take hope through a letter UVU President Astrid Tuminez wrote in March.
“At times like this, I encourage you to think of the stoic philosophers, whose ethos in life was to focus on the moment and on what’s under one’s control and what isn’t,” said Tuminez. “Your athletic, professional, academic, and life journeys are going to continue in many exciting ways. Remember what you’ve learned and are learning from training, competition, teamwork, listening to coaches, and engaging in all the good things we offer at UVU.”
Senior defender, Mark Brown, and the UVU men’s soccer team are taking that counsel to heart. Brown said that the team recognizes and is “bummed out” that their season is in jeopardy — but they have been working hard in the gym and on the field anyway. Trainers and coaches are working more hours than ever because of the requirement to take athlete’s temperatures and to go through symptom checklists. In addition, teams are limited in how many players can meet at one time so coaches are hosting more training sessions with different athletes coming to each one.
“The virus situation is difficult for everyone including the fans,” Brown said. “A lot of the guys are looking forward to the season because we want to make the school proud. They should be confident that we will be at the top of our game whether they are watching in person or virtually.”
So while coronavirus has dropped the gauntlet and seeks to challenge the fall sports seasons that many have worked and dreamed for, UVU athletes have accepted the challenge by showing off their grit, resilience, and tenacity.