“All athletic competition (conference and non-conference) at HCAC member institutions is indefinitely suspended, effective immediately,” read a statement released by the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) on March 13. With this statement, the busy season of AU Athletics came to a halt.
Among the affected sports are men’s and women’s lacrosse, tennis, baseball and softball.
“Sadly our season has come to an end with the growing concern of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Jacob Ashton. “Despite the indefinite suspension with possible return to play starting April 6, several of our fellow conference schools have individually canceled their entire spring seasons, thus, leaving us without enough teams to continue playing on the lacrosse side.”
Ashton added, “I am proud of what we have accomplished in our short season this spring and look forward to getting back on the field in due time.”
With this being only the second season of AU’s lacrosse program, Junior biology major and women’s lacrosse player Katie Essick explained that the decision has been dispiriting.
“In our second ever season here at AU, it really sucks to not be able to compete,” she said. “We’ve improved so much from last year and would have really liked the opportunity to prove that to everyone. Our season as of currently is postponed until April 6. The team was told that today by our coach. We are just super disappointed we can’t play and show everyone how hard we’ve worked, but we know the health of our friends and families is more important.”
According to baseball player MJ Furnish, junior accounting and business information systems major, the uncertainty surrounding the situation has been disheartening for the Ravens.
“It has been a confusing and frustrating time as a team,” he said. “We have had a great start to our season and it is really tough when something like this happens; it feels almost like a bad dream.”
Furnish explained that the decision to indefinitely suspend the season has been particularly disappointing for senior athletes.
“It is especially tough for our 17 seniors and the uncertainties regarding eligibility and coming back for another year,” said Furnish. “Through this time all we can do is ‘control the controllables.’”
Despite the frustration, Furnish explained that he understands why the decision.
“I greatly respect President Pistole, our coaches and administration for how they have handled this situation,” Furnish said. “While our entire team wishes we could keep playing, I believe a temporary suspension of our season is a much more appropriate response than an immediate cancelation. I hope that the decisions being made by our conference and the NCAA will help slow the spread of this disease and make a difference for someone who would have otherwise been harmed.”