NWC announces suspension of 2020 fall sports schedule

Without+the+usual+packed+crowd+of+Wildcat+fans%2C+Memorial+Stadium+will+stay+quiet+this+fall.

Maddie Loverich

Without the usual packed crowd of Wildcat fans, Memorial Stadium will stay quiet this fall.

Maddie Loverich, Sports Editor

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In mid-August, the presidents of the Northwest Conference announced that fall seasons for football, soccer, volleyball, cross country, golf and tennis have been suspended. Schedules will be postponed until the spring, with further details to be released at a later date. 

Winter sports, such as swimming and basketball, have also been delayed until January 1. 

Athletic Director Garry Killgore discussed the situation in a statement. “Nobody is happy about having to postpone their seasons, but the conference has a plan to allow student-athletes to compete, and the Linfield coaches and athletes will work toward that,” Killgore said. “We will take precautions, we will listen to and follow the recommendations of health officials and we will, as of now, plan to be on the fields of competition when the time comes.” 

Kilgore also directly addressed the student-athletes in a Youtube video, encouraging them to continue working hard and embrace the Linfield motto: “All In.”

Teams will still be allowed to meet and practice throughout the fall in accordance with regulations from local and state officials, as well as the NCAA. 

Makenna Blix, a junior on the women’s soccer team, shares a similar sentiment as many of the athletes affected. “I think all of us on the soccer team, both men’s and women’s, are very bummed about the news,” Blix said. “We’re now looking at this as an opportunity to train even harder for the spring season. It gives us even more time to grow as athletes while also building and keeping our strong team chemistry we’re known for.”

Besides having to wear masks during practice, each sport has adapted different practice strategies to ensure safety. 

Since arriving on campus in late August, the volleyball team has divided practice sessions into two strategically picked groups to maximize distancing. Football employed similar tactics, dividing position groups by age. 

Junior defensive end Josh Hanigan acknowledges that COVID has made football practices interesting, but the adjustments have been extremely effective. “We’ve had to do two different practice sessions because there’s too many guys, so coaches are there for four plus hours,” Hanigan said. “But Linfield has definitely done a good job.” Limiting contact drills to ten minutes also helps protect against potential exposure. 

Athletes from limited-contact sports, such as golf, cross-country and tennis, were disappointed that their season was suspended, but golfer Raegan Barr says it didn’t exactly come as a surprise. 

The announcement came about three weeks after the initial suspension of football, soccer and volleyball in late July. “Even though golf is considerably easier to socially distance, there is always a risk,” Barr said. “That’s what we have to keep in mind moving forward to ultimately be able to play in competition again.”

Guidelines from health officials and the NCAA are likely to be adjusted as Linfield continues to navigate the challenges brought forth by the pandemic, making this a constantly developing situation. 

For updates and further details, visit golinfieldwildcats.com