Fall sports canceled, UW Oshkosh athletes devastated


UWO Flickr

Junior Anthony D’Orazio gets the Titans riled up before their home opener last week against Carthage College. This week the Titans traveled to Maryland and fell to Salisbury University 24-19.

Cory Sparks, Sports Editor

Nothing can truly compare to the chaotic culmination of sounds coming out of the stands at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium when the UW Oshkosh Titans score a touchdown. There also seems to be no instance where teamwork and sportsmanship are exemplified to a greater extent than when cross country runners cheer on their teammates as they finish another grueling 8 km race in the Midwest weather.

It would also be foolish to forget to acknowledge the excitement that rings throughout the Titan student fan base when the women’s soccer team brings home another win with Clash the Titan cheering on from the sidelines.

However, none of those sights will be present in 2020 due to the catastrophic spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic stopped many spring seasons right in their tracks.

The track team was on their way to nationals, and the women’s basketball team was entering the Sweet 16 round of March Madness during what was already a magical season.

Then, on July 27, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of the football, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country seasons.

“I was mad — I understand the reasons for canceling, but [cross country] for us is more than just a sport,” said UWO cross country runner Ryan Dolnik. “The only issue I could see is the start of races since we are all condensed. I feel that there could have been regulations put in place to have staggered starts whether it be for team or [personal record]. Our top guys have put in solid summer training so I wouldn’t have been surprised if the guys placed well at the conference and regional meet.”

Although the cancellations brought many athletes disappointment, seeing that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 6 million cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many said it did not come as much of a shock.

“It was bound to happen. I knew there was no way we’d get through a full season anyway. It still was a big disappointment though,” said Jaylen Grant, a UWO football player and track athlete. The absence of fall sports also means an absence of fan gatherings at games.

With this comes despair for incoming freshmen who are just coming off of an online/hybrid graduation as class of 2020 high school seniors.

“I’m upset about not being able to experience college football games and getting to participate in the school spirit that comes along with it,” UWO freshman Maryrose Waller said.

In terms of what the athletes will do in their extended offseasons, there is a culmination between refining their skills for that sport and prepping for a sport in another season.

“Since there has been no say on track cancellation or a change in format we are training as if the season will come,” Dolnik said. “Being in a house with some of my teammates makes group running easier since we don’t have to worry much about social distancing among ourselves. The only difference in training is we won’t have the whole team in one place.”

In order for sports teams in the winter and spring timeframes to have seasons, precautions will have to be put into place. Students believe that maintaining the guidelines that every civilian is asked to do throughout the training and gameday processes could be a step in the right direction.

“At least trying to maintain social distancing and wearing masks inside when lifting or wearing masks when social distancing can’t be managed as well [will go a long way],” Waller said.

As the fall sports seasons are replaced with athletes preparing for their next upcoming competitions, many await for a WIAC statement regarding the possibility of there being any sports seasons in the Winter