GVSU Club Sports copes with losing the rest of the winter and spring 2020 seasons

Courtesy / GVSU Club Sports

Courtesy / GVSU Club Sports

Kellen Voss, Sports Editor

Thursday, March 12, 2020 will be remembered in infamy in the sports world, as that was the day that the NCAA canceled it’s annual men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments, making all the 2020 March Madness shirts already printed relics.

While it’s obviously sad that these winter and spring NCAA athletes will either lose a chance to compete for a national championship, lose a season of their collegiate careers or see their college athletic careers come to an abrupt ending, they aren’t the only athletes on GVSU’s campus impacted by COVID-19.

In accordance with the NCAA, GVSU Club Sports canceled all spring sports and winter sports still in competition on March 12, effective immediately. Twenty seven clubs, 881 total athletes and 125 seniors saw their club sports season vanish in thin air.

“When the NCAA canceled the (men’s and women’s basketball) tournaments, we saw the dominos start falling,” said Mike Przydzial, associate director of Recreation & Wellness at GVSU. “At that time, we had all but a handful of teams still left. Basketball as of now is tentatively scheduled for late April and baseball and softball are scheduled for late May, but I can’t imagine that as universities pull out that this is the responsible decision.”

It’s never easy to cancel a sporting event, let alone a season, when so many athletes have dedicated their lives to continue playing the sports that they love.

Relying on decisions from the NCAA, GVSU and the GLIAC as guidelines to follow, Przydizial wanted to emphasize that keeping these well-rounded athletes safe was always the number one priority

“It was a hard decision to make, our hearts go out to our athletes, and seniors especially,” Przydzial said. “It takes a lot of commitment to stick with it four years with classes, internships, jobs and what have you. It became a part of their lives, so for our seniors who didn’t get to finish out their season, that’s tough.”

Following the decision, Przydzial confirmed with the Lanthorn that since all club coaches are paid under contract, they will be paid out as if their respective seasons had taken place.

“That’s the best thing to do, especially with the amount of time and dedication it takes to get their athletes prepared for their season,” Przydzial said. “We’re all going through this together and trying to make due with what we can and staying in contact with our clubs and coaches, helping cancel travel plans and be a resource however we can.”

While it was hard for Rec & Wellness to cancel all club sports, Przydzial felt especially bad for the club wrestling team, who left for Allen, Texas, to compete in the NCWA championships before GVSU pulled them from competition two days later for safety.

“We had three wrestlers who were about to be All-Americans and potentially national champions, that one was tough,” Przydzial said. “The organization hosting did not make a decision, so we made the decision to pull our athletes early. That was painful to have to do, but we’re staying consistent with the situation.”

As is the case with other sporting organizations, in this time of national panic, Przydzial viewed this as a learning experience.

“From a learning standpoint, we have to do what’s best for our students and their well-being,” Przydzial said. “We’re part of recreation and wellness, if we made a decision going against their wellness and health, that would be irresponsible for us to do. We got to stay fluid, flexible and find flexible ways to communicate with our teams and get ready for the fall season.”

While it’s horrible that all these athletes lose a season and 125 seniors see their club sports careers disappear, Przydzial is certain that with the excellent recruiting jobs by coaches and the communication of team e-boards, everything should be back to normal for the Fall clubs sports season.

“I do think in a way, it may help us,” Przydzial said. “Students will be looking at how universities are handling the situation, and students look at us and say ‘GVSU club sports made a very responsible decision and I want to be a part of that organization.’

“Coaches have done a great job recruiting, and we still have e-boards communicating: That’s really who drives this program, we should be able to pick up right where we left off, and I have full confidence that we’ll be back up in the fall.”