Coaches share the disappointment with student-athletes regarding canceled sport seasons

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Lexie Pilz

Preparing his team for the upcoming girls lacrosse season, coach Tom Herpel directs his players during the parent/ player game, not knowing the coronavirus would halt the season from begining. With all the varsity players returning, hopes were high for a winning season. “I was heartbroken. I knew how hard the girls worked over the past couple years to put themselves in a position to be so successful,” Herpel said. “It was terrible to think about what could have been but never would be.”

Student-athletes aren’t the only ones who are disappointed with their seasons being cancelled due to the coronavirus. The coaches are equally frustrated about not being able to lead their teams during the spring. 

“This season we had a very strong team with exceptional volleyball skill and knowledge. Every player on the varsity team this year has worked very hard to be excellent players and get to this point,” varsity boys volleyball head coach Susan Anderson said. “We were also excited about the JV and freshman teams. All three levels were filled with players who were excited to play. They put in time throughout the winter to prepare, and we were very eager for our season to start.” 

Anderson was not the only coach who felt that they lost an opportunity to have a successful season.

Providing advice about something you never experienced and cannot ask anyone else for help is very challenging. I know for sure it did not help them, or make anything feel better, but we had to remember this is so much bigger than us; bigger than Missouri, the US and all those people are also losing something they wanted to do in order to stay safe and stay alive.”

— Susan Anderson

“Last year, we did not graduate a single varsity player. The entire varsity team returned, which was a tremendous advantage for us. We had varsity game experience, team chemistry, and the will to vie for a state championship,” assistant girls lacrosse coach Tom Herpel said. “I was looking forward to coaching a team with such potential.”

While it was difficult to have their season cancelled, the coaches had to help their players understand why this occurred and put this decision in the proper perspective.

“Providing advice about something you never experienced and cannot ask anyone else for help is very challenging. I know for sure it did not help them, or make anything feel better, but we had to remember this is so much bigger than us; bigger than Missouri, the US and all those people are also losing something they wanted to do in order to stay safe and stay alive,” Anderson said. 

In addition, other coaches tried to keep their players motivated by staying in shape and giving them a reason to go outside and get fresh air despite being quarantined.

“Although everything was being cancelled, I encouraged them to go outside and try to consistently keep running. I felt it would be good for them mentally and physically,” track and field coach Kevin John said.

With the spring sports season cancelled, the coaches must now think about how to prepare for next year.  However, this may be challenging considering the unknown timelines for school activity due to this pandemic.

“With summer contact time being shortened and so much uncertainty about what our return to play and school looks like we do not have any summer camps scheduled. Once we have information about the rules for returning to play, we will set up early and additional open gyms for our guys to get back to playing,” Anderson said.

Despite not being able to participate in their spring sports seasons, Coach Herpel feels that this experience may help his players learn about situations beyond the playing field.  

“The terrible yet comforting reality is that everyone is in the same boat. We are all trying to rebuild teams and programs after this global disruption. At the end of the day, our goal is to teach our players about life through sport,” Herpel said. “I’m sure resilience will be a key lesson for next year.”