Club sports react to fall season suspension

Joshua Carlson, Staff Writer

GVL / Katherine Vasile With club sports being cancelled for the fall 2020 semester, teams will have to find a different and more creative way to stay connected.

With the announcement of Grand Valley State University club sports being suspended through Jan. 10, 2021, athletes and members of club sports staff are still reacting to the news. They will continue work and try to figure out how this fall is going to play out for GVSU club sports.

Due to COVID-19, club sports will only be able to conduct competitions if they can be held virtually, along with certain clubs only being allowed two face-to-face training sessions per week. Otherwise, the sessions will be held in a virtual format. The GVSU club sports FAQ states that clubs can still hold tryouts within their weekly training session parameters. If there is a previously off-campus club that needs to reserve facilities, they can contact Assistant Director Mitch Eastlick.

The decision to cancel fall sports and club sports for this semester was difficult. Mike Pryzdial, the Associate Director of Sports Programs for GVSU, understands how athletes and coaches have felt about this decision.

“I understand there are frustrations and rightfully so,” Pryzdial said. “We’re doing our best to work diligently and closely with our student leaders and our coaches to ensure that they’re going to be able to participate safely within the parameters that we’ve set for this fall. We know that our club sports are here to compete and represent the university, so there is a lot of disappointment.”

Deciding to suspend all club sports ultimately leaves a lot to determine for the department and how it will affect the athletes who participate. With no knowledge of the future, it is still up in the air on if fall sports will be pushed to the winter semester.

“All in all, I’m extremely proud of our staff, our student leaders and our coaches,” Pryzdial said. “Everyone has really stepped up and has really embraced what has been set forth for the fall. We’re looking to find ways they can stay sharp with their skills, keep their community going, and work towards when they can have the ability to go out and compete again.”

Pryzdial guaranteed that when making the decision, his team looked at the situation in various ways, taking all the information they could before making it final. The safest option for coaches and athletes, however, ultimately came to not conducting club sports this fall.

Kayla Daniels, president of the Cross Country and Track & Field Club at GVSU, is thankful that although there will be no club competition, she and her team can still conduct training sessions to stay active as a club sport.

“I was pretty prepared to have no club sports,” Daniels said. “So, to get two days a week, I was thrilled. At the beginning of the pandemic back in March, all campus activity was closed. To come back and be able to get two days a week was exciting. For a while there I had convinced myself that this semester was going to be like last March.”

Unlike other club sports, cross country and track are self-coached, which puts it all on Daniels as the president to continue to help other members of the club with their motivation to train and stay ready. Posting updates on their Facebook page, scheduling track times and trying to find ways to give athletes competition are all things Daniels continues to do to make sure her club gets the most out of this unique year.

For what the future holds with next springs club track and field season, the only thing Daniels can be is hopeful for her team.

“I think right now we can be optimistic, train and believe that there’s a chance for the spring,” Daniels said. “The chances feel low, but we’ll find other ways. If we still get to practice next semester, hopefully, it will be enough for our athletes and encouragement for them to still come out for the club.”

With what was decided, all that anyone who is a part of a sports club at GVSU can do is have optimism and do the best they can with the options that have been given. Pryzdial has a message for the community who works hard to make sure that club sports are being represented.

“We are very grateful for their understanding and we are here to support them,” Pryzdial said. “I understand this is going to be a difficult transition, it’s going to be very challenging. We are really relying on our students to step up and buy into the concept of what we are trying to do so we can execute this plan together. We can continue to phase in different aspects of our program and ultimately get back to the competitive piece of club sports.”

Pryzdial encourages club sports members to hang in there and reminded them that the staff is there to support athletes however they can. While it will be challenging and the future unknown, everyone hopes that club sports will be returning as fast as possible.