With the school year now here, Loyola students are gearing up for the semester with a few major differences. For some, it’s simply taking online classes and not going on campus, but for Loyola Athletics fans, there’s something deeper missing.
The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) announced Aug. 14 all fall sports will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the release, the conference said it will “continue to evaluate options” for the impacted sports — men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball — including potentially moving them to the spring.
Junior criminal justice major Lily Krueter is a self-proclaimed Loyola super fan, going to many games her first two years at Loyola. She said she was hoping to be able to safely attend games this fall.
“Obviously I was really disappointed to not have any games that we could even watch remotely,” Krueter said. “But it wasn’t too shocking considering the state of everything and how Loyola had moved to a completely online format.”
Twenty-year-old Bekah Cates also wasn’t surprised that fall sports were canceled, citing rising COVID-19 cases in Chicago and the United States as a whole. With averages in the United States of 50,000-60,000 new cases a day and college campuses being shut down after just days of on-campus involvement, Cates said she thought it was the right decision.
Even though Cates said she was expecting the decision, she said it didn’t make her any less upset. The start of the fall season is something she said she’s been a part of ever since her first year on campus.
“Fall sports always felt like a kick-off party to start the year off right,” Cates, a psychology and statistics double major said. “So, it sucks that we won’t get that this year. I can’t imagine how it feels for the players. The crowd in the stands always pumps me up so I assume they’d be missing that even if games did continue.”
Both soccer teams are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances and the women’s volleyball team was supposed to return from it’s best regular-season finish since joining the MVC. Now Loyola fans most likely won’t see any of these teams face off until 2021.
“I would’ve liked to see [women and men’s soccer] make it even further in the tournament than they did last year especially since I look the most forward to soccer season,” Cates, a junior, said.
With an official decision now made for the fall season, fans are holding onto hope that Loyola’s winter sports — men’s and women’s basketball — will be able to take place.
The Loyola men’s basketball team has been very active on social media about its practices. Even though the only updates are about players practicing in small pods, it’s getting fans like senior sports management major Thomas Scully excited.
“I mean, the fact that basketball is going ahead with no issues is promising,” Scully, 20, said. “I am still concerned with the conference’s sudden decision to suspend all fall sports. It makes me skeptical we won’t see real action until the new year.”
Despite the MVC giving permission for schools to compete in non-conference matches at their discretion, Loyola Athletics Director Steve Watson said it’s not likely there will be games.
Even though basketball is still practicing, there’s still some underlying concerns from other fans. Cates said she’s not optimistic about a potential winter season. But even if there are basketball seasons, Cates said she thinks fans probably won’t get the chance to watch the 2020-21 teams.
“If everyone can follow guidelines and if it’s possible to maintain a high level of safety and cleanliness in Gentile [Arena], that’s great,” Cates said. “But that’s putting a lot of big expectations on a large group of people and I’m not so sure I can see that happening. I would be surprised if everything managed to work out by winter.”