UAF Coaches react to conference suspending fall sports

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 8:12 PM AKDT
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On Friday, The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, home to University of Alaska Volleyball, Cross Country Running and Men’s and Women’s Basketball, announced the suspension of all intercollegiate competition until November 30.

This will directly affect UAF’s Volleyball and Cross Country Running seasons, which both begin in August and conclude in November.

Nanook Volleyball posted a 15-13 last season, which began with an intrasquad scrimmage on August 23 and finished with a win against Saint martin’s University on November 23.

“I can’t say that it necessarily surprised me,” said UAF Volleyball head coach Brian Scott. “I know it is not an easy decision for anyone to make, it’s difficult all the way around. We want to resume life as normal as possible, but we still have the health, safety and well-being of the public and these student-athletes to keep in mind.”

The volleyball program has student-athletes representing many parts of the world, such as Germany and Taiwan. The GNAC stated that practices will be at the discretion of each institution, something UAF plans to address in the near future.

Although this is not news that many of the student-athletes wanted to hear, Scott is looking on the bright side, with ways for them to use this to their advantage.

“It’s just another way to test our resiliency and our strength. This is part of life, to deal with setbacks, to deal with hardships and we’re going to end up becoming stronger because of it,” added Scott. “So it might be frustrating in the here and in the now, but in the end results is we’re going to become better from it, we’re going to persevere and we’re going to overcome this.”

By October 15, the GNAC plans to announce a decision regarding competition after November 30, including playing the fall sports in the spring.

However, this could complicate UAF’s Cross Country Running and Ski programs, as many of the athletes compete in both sports. In 2019, seven of the eight Men’s Nordic Skiers also participated in cross country running, while all 11 members of the Women’s Cross Country team also competed in Nordic Ski.

“That might potentially be a conflict of time because our ski season, although it is a winter sport, it runs fairly deep into the spring, so i could potentially see that being an issue,” said acting ski and cross country coach Eliska Albrigtsen.

Similar to Scott, Albrigtsen hopes to use the postponed season as a way to develop a stronger team.

“It is a little bit of a relief because we were suppose to start in our preseason camps as early as August 16 and that was a little bit of scary idea,” added Albrigtsen. “I think it is an incredible opportunity for us to keep training, keep getting faster, resolve some of our injuries that we have on the team, bring more funds and bring more athletes to the team without having any repercussions eligibility wise, so I see it as a positive for our team.”

Men’s and Women’s Basketball will also be affected, as both teams competed in their first game on November 9 last season.

In a statement released by UAF, Keith Champagne, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Athletics, said, “I also want to assure you that this suspension will not interrupt our student-athletes’ education. Scholarships will remain in effect and student-athletes will begin classes this fall, just as they would normally. Once we have more guidance from the GNAC, we will let them know when they should report to the training camp for their respective sports.”

The GNAC’s statement regarding the suspension of fall sports can be found here.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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