Coach Geoff Collins’ football team completed its sixth of 15 spring practices Thursday morning. Practice was to resume after spring break, which takes place next week. The resumption of practice, including the spring game scheduled for April 10, seems very much in doubt.
For good measure, the institute also announced Thursday that it will move to a “distance learning” format after classes resume after spring break March 30.
For all teams and athletes, many competing in their senior seasons for the last time in an organized setting, opportunities to compete after countless hours spent in practices and individual training have been lost. There are far heavier costs being borne by the spread of the coronavirus, but it doesn’t make anyone’s own sacrifices any lighter.
On the women’s track and field team, for instance, distance runner Nicole Fegans and triple jumper Bria Matthews were to compete in this weekend’s NCAA indoor track and field championship in Albuquerque, N.M. Both won ACC champions in their respective events, Fegans (a junior) in the 3,000 meters and Matthews in the triple jump. For Matthews, a senior, it was her third.
Matthews will finish her Tech career as a most exemplary jumper. But she’ll likely be denied her last outdoor track and field season.
It’s conceivable that the ACC suspension could be lifted before the end of teams’ regular seasons, although that seems unlikely. The Big Ten, for instance, has canceled all competition through the end of the academic year. But even if that were to happen, the cancellation of all NCAA championship events removes the ultimate incentive for Yellow Jackets athletes. Before the start of the baseball season, for example, players spoke of getting to Omaha, Neb. – site of the College World Series. For the team’s seniors and juniors likely to jump to the professional ranks if drafted, that goal has been eliminated.
For Tech’s golf team, perennially the best team on campus, coach Bruce Heppler has a team ranked third nationally that has a core of three seniors who helped the Jackets win the ACC championship a year ago, the team’s 18th. Tech’s hunt for its first-ever national championship will have to wait.
Tech’s women’s tennis team is ranked ninth nationally, and senior Kenya Jones is the No. 20 singles player in the country. The men’s team ranks 44th.
At the end of a wild day, when those Jackets can take to the court again – or their fellow Jackets to their own competitive arenas – can only be guessed.