Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic caused California Lutheran University to go to distance learning online, but also, it has resulted in the premature end of several athletic teams’ seasons.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association and Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’ announced athletic teams who are currently in season have had their seasons completely canceled, including Cal Lutheran.
Some teams will continue practicing and training, but most have shut down operations completely. Coaches will continue to follow the university’s guidance as the situation progresses.
“Our athletic director Dan Kuntz has been on top of communicating with all of us as usual and has been very supportive and concerned for the student-athletes, coaches, everyone’s families and the university as a whole,” men and women’s tennis Head Coach Mike Gennette said in an email interview.
The tennis team will take a week off from all practicing and reevaluate the situation to determine the possibility of holding some optional practices for players.
“We don’t want to put anyone in danger and it’s also important to #flattenthecurve of the virus’ spread for the greater good. So there is a good chance that tennis is over for the semester at CLU,” Gennette said.
The Regals’ water polo team was ranked number one in the College Water Polo National Poll amid the cancellation of their season, and were preparing to qualify for the new Division III National Championship tournament this spring, Head Coach Craig Rond said in an email interview.
“This is extremely sad. My heart is broken especially for the seniors that have lost their final year of water polo,” Rond said.
According to the official NCAA Division III Administrative Committee, the NCAA will be granting an additional season of eligibility for student-athletes who are currently competing in spring sports. This allows athletes to truly participate in four seasons of their spring sport, if that is something they choose to do.
“We will work harder than ever once we are given the chance to do so,” Rond said. “It appears that the NCAA is going to grant a waiver on this season so perhaps we may get some back to our team next spring.”
Many athletes are finding themselves trying to make some sort of sense in a season cut-short.
“It’s frustrating having so many things change so quickly, especially since it’s a lot of things that we can’t control,” junior water polo player Taylor Campbell said.
The NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring championships on March 12, according to their official website. This decision was based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat and the necessity to avoid contributing to the spread during athletic competitions.
“The NCAA canceled every Spring Championship, which includes ours,” Head Coach of men’s volleyball Kevin Judd said in an email interview. “The NCAA has granted every athlete in a ‘Spring’ sport…their year of eligibility back! Interesting, but not practical for an athlete to spend the money for an extra season!”
While the option of playing another season is viable, for many players, particularly seniors, the option is not ideal if their post-graduation plans did not involve returning to Cal Lutheran for graduate school.
“It’s super sad and I am so bummed that our season was cut short,” sophomore softball player Rilee Grau said. “These girls are my best friends and we have eight amazing seniors that played the last games of their career and they didn’t even know it, so it’s really heartbreaking.”
For senior athletes, the end of their spring season means the end of most of their athletic careers.
“I’m more upset for the seniors and for the team–we’re all really, really close, and we don’t get to finish it out, and some of the seniors didn’t get to play in the tournaments,” first-year golfer Claire Cornejo said.
For the Regals’ lacrosse team, which entered into its inaugural season this year, the cancellation of their season is particularly devastating.
“I’m looking forward to looking back on this all several years from now, and saying wow look at all we overcame and how we grew in so many ways,” lacrosse Head Coach Laura McIntyre said in an email interview. “This virus is bigger than the games, and the records but so are the reasons we play sports, the lessons we learn as athletes transcend what happens on the field and in preparation and stick with us forever.”
As for the future, Cal Lutheran athletics will follow the NCAA and school protocol, and focus on coming out stronger after the dust has settled.
Cal Lutheran’s tennis coach has been coaching at Cal Lutheran for 28 years, and has seen the school’s resilience first hand. I have gone through a couple of epidemics SARS and MERS, 9-11, coached during a couple of wars and the 2008 recession, the 1994 earthquake, a few fire seasons, the Borderline shooting, and various other issues through the years,” Gennette said. “I have seen the nation, the university and the students bounce back stronger than before each time. I am expecting the same this time.”