When the Colorado College women’s soccer season was postponed after weeks of swirling rumors, there was naturally a letdown. But also relief.
On Monday the Colorado Springs-based Mountain West announced the indefinite postponement of all fall sports. The women’s soccer team, one of two Division I programs at the school, has been a member of the Mountain West since 2014.
It ended several frustrating weeks for the Tigers. Even though there are no guarantees going forward as the country struggles to contain COVID-19, the team has something to work toward.
“To be able to have some closure, that was actually worth embracing,” coach Geoff Bennett said. “It wasn’t the answer, probably, that everyone wanted, but it’s at least something that we could sink our teeth into, understand and get mentally prepared for the next step.
“I slept pretty well last night, to be honest with you, because we knew now where our path was.”
Without official word from the conference, they continued preparations, following training protocols and striving to be what Bennett called “model citizens on campus.” A few hours before the announcement came, Bennett said staff was mapping out what the first week of the preseason would look like.
After athletic director Lesley Irvine passed along the news, a Zoom call was quickly scheduled.
It allowed everyone the chance to refocus.
“It was really hard to keep that motivation up, to grind that hard and work that hard when you didn’t even know if there was going to be a time frame for it to pay off,” senior midfielder Tayla Wheeler said. “Mentally it really wreaked havoc on a lot of our players.
“I think the relief came knowing there was a decision made. We were really disappointed in it, but we’re hopeful that it buys us more time.
“This entire team is very hopeful for the spring.”
In the announcement release the Mountain West claimed to be exploring “the feasibility of rescheduling fall sports competition, including the possibility of those sports competing in the spring.”
If games can be safely played in early 2021, Bennett said he expects it to be “pretty seamless.”
There are benefits to postponement besides a potentially safer environment. As it stands, the Tigers will see their training time reduced, but a group that has trained alone all summer can ease back into a competitive environment.
Wheeler said there’s still a chance to get in the full experience of her senior year. As conferences dropped out, they saw that they would have had a significantly reduced schedule in the fall.
“At that point, we were almost hoping that the postponement would happen and we’d be able to go to spring because at least that gave us a chance at being able to get a full season,” she said.
Wheeler, who plans to go to grad school, had never considered a fifth year. But if the spring season can’t go forward and extra eligibility is offered, it’s “not off the table.”
“If this virus and just the experience we’ve had this summer has taught me anything, it’s just to stay on your toes and be OK with things changing course,” Wheeler said.
The Mountain West postponed its fall sports season, citing challenges presented by the coronavirus. Football, volleyball and all other sports are on hold, left with only the possibility of competing in the spring.
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