The Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) has decided to cancel all fall sports for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Students and officials have high hopes of resuming play for winter sports.
Due to Covid-19 and remote learning, the ACAA came to the decision to cancel fall semester sports. Affected sports at King’s include rugby and soccer, as well as early season and exhibition games for volleyball, basketball, and badminton. The decision comes after the ACAA, in conjunction with college presidents, discussed the risks of resuming play in the fall, and deciding that it would not be possible to follow public health procedures.
UKC Athletic Director Neil Hooper noted in an email to student-athletes that he realizes how disheartening the cancellation will be to them, but also said that there are too many unknowns to plan a fall season. “Physical distancing, screening and controlled facility access are among mandated measures, and border control is expected to remain in place,” said Hooper. It is not possible to plan a season with the uncertainty of the months to come.
Although students won’t be able to attend traditional practices, the athletics department is still offering online support for the athletes. “Each sport will receive virtual yoga and strength and conditioning programs tailored specifically to the needs of each sport,” said Hooper.
In addition to the virtual programs, Hooper hopes to allow smaller groups access to the gym facilities for technical training. The athletics department is not only providing athletic support for the athletes, they will also have free access to tutoring should they need it.
Fifth-year student Shinji Yamamoto, a member of the varsity soccer team, is one of many students who will not be able to play his final season at King’s. Yamamoto decided to delay graduating by a semester in order to have a chance to compete with the Blue Devils for one final season. Now finds himself in a frustrating situation – not only will he be unable to play soccer, but was also unable to experience graduation with those he is closest to. “I could’ve taken summer courses last year to finish up my degree and graduate with all of my friends but I decided I wanted to play again this year,” said Yamamoto, “it’s heartbreaking.”
The decision to cancel the fall season did not come as a surprise, but Yamamoto thinks the decision came too early. “We still have two months to see how the pandemic will take us,” he said. Despite the frustration, he appreciates the support the school is giving the athletes.
Yamamoto notes that the virtual programs might not appeal to students in their final year with the Blue Devils, but does recognize that they will certainly serve as good opportunities for incoming students to build chemistry with their new teammates
The varsity badminton team’s newest recruit, Aidan Badcock-Parks, says he wasn’t surprised by the decision to cancel the fall season. “I knew the decision was coming,” said Badcock-Parks. “I didn’t want to accept it, but it’s definitely the right choice for the safety of the students.” For Badcock-Parks, the promise of being able to play a varsity sport was a big factor in his decision to attend Kings. “The ability to say that I am a varsity athlete on one of the most competitive teams on campus is a really nice feeling”, said Badcock-Parks.
Badminton is one of the sports offered at King’s which is still hoping to be able to resume play in the winter semester, Badcock-Parks is hopeful of that the return is possible, “With the announcement of the possibility of a shortened season I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to play something, and I’m sure many others are really looking forward to it.” Badcock-Parks says he is also wary about the school’s plans to offer virtual training. He believes that their intentions are certainly in the right spot but is not confident it will play out exactly as hoped. Despite the worries, Badcock-Park remains excited to be able to represent the Blue Devils in the future.