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UST Student Athletes Reflect on Cancellation of Fall Sports Competitions

Student-athletes at the University of St. Thomas are among thousands of college athletes across the nation who will not be participating in athletic programs during the 2020 fall semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference announced the suspension of athletic events and competitions throughout the fall semester on July 16 due to ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19. As a result, UST men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball teams will not compete.

At UST, some students lamented the suspension while others remain hopeful for the spring semester.

Senior psychology and pre-physical therapy major, Kaylyn Latin, who is a member of the UST women’s volleyball team, said she was upset about the cancellation.

“I think it affects me emotionally because it being my senior year,” Latin said. “I was looking forward to finishing my volleyball career strong.”

 However, she said she plans to continue to work out and maintain her volleyball skills throughout the fall semester. 

Latin said she believes canceling fall sports was the right decision because of the increase in COVID-19 cases in Houston. 

The Houston Chronicle reported that the Houston region’s total number of cases is 124,272 and a total of 2,129 deaths as of Aug. 11. 

Latin said she feels cancelling sports will ensure the safety of college athletes in SCAC. 

According to the FAQ on the UST Athletics page, the SCAC is considering moving fall sports competitions to the 2021 spring semester to provide student athletes “some sort of regular season schedule and conference championship experience.”

According to Latin, such a change, however, could complicate her priorities.

“I believe competing during the spring semester will be different and a huge change to adjust to because it’s my senior year,” Latin said. “I wanted to make sure I’m ready for graduation and focus on graduation and my grades.” 

Sophomore biology and pre-med major Cassidy Litten said she is also disappointed the season was canceled.

As a member of the UST Women’s Cross-Country Team, she said having to wake up early and be at places at certain times for the sport usually keeps her life on track. Without cross-country practices and competitions, she said her schedule will not be as organized. 

Litten said although she thinks the suspension was a hard decision for the SCAC, it was probably the right one.

In a Zoom meeting with UST athletes, UST Athletic Director Todd Smith said since cross-country is considered a medium-contact sport, the team would have had to get tested for the virus every two weeks. Litten said it would be expensive.

UST Women’s Cross-Country Coach Ryan Dohner sends the team running schedules during the holiday breaks, according to Litten, so she plans to continue running throughout the fall semester.  

“I think the solution we have right now works,” Litten said. “We can do road races and still practice, so I am thankful for that much.” 

Litten said without big competitions at the end of the season, the team’s training could be more relaxed during the fall semester.

“Our summer training is easier than fall because we are just keeping in shape, being consistent and gearing up for race season,” Litten said. “That’s probably what fall will look like.”

Junior communication major and UST Men’s Soccer Player Kelvin Cardona said he  remains hopeful that competitions will resume next year.

“I personally don’t feel mad or cheated about the situation because there is still hope of having a season during the spring,” Cardona said.

“The team was made aware that the season could be suspended before the announcement was officially made,” Cardona said. “Therefore, when it was made official, everyone reacted normal, as it wasn’t a surprise.” 

Cardona, too, said he thought suspending athletic events and competitions during the fall was the right decision.

“I don’t see a way that we could have a season without having close interaction,” he said, “and this pandemic doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.”

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