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Student-Athletes, Coaches Adjust to a Fall Without Competition

Student-Athletes, Coaches Adjust to a Fall Without Competition

Change is a term that has been used a lot in The University of Scranton Department of Athletics since the middle of March when the COVID-19 pandemic began to take effect across the country.

Since then, coaches and student-athletes of all 23 of Scranton’s athletic teams have had to adjust to a harsh reality — the chances were very slim that they would be able to compete against another team for the fall 2020 semester.

After spring sports were halted in April, the Landmark Conference did the same with fall sports in late July, moving competitions in volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball to the spring of 2021. Despite that, the Athletics Department and their coaches pressed along with a plan to begin practices in October. 

Finally, on Oct. 5, fall sport student-athletes were allowed to practice again. Winter sport student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming eventually joined into the fold for practice. Spring student-athletes also got in some work during the month of October, as well.

Albeit, all practices were done under conditions that they had to adjust to immediately.

First, before practicing, student-athletes and coaches had to have their temperature checked. Second, large roster teams, such as the soccer and field hockey programs, had to practice in group cohorts to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Also, student-athletes and coaches had to wear masks throughout their respective practices.

Royals adjusted, and all sports wrapped up their practices on Nov. 13.

While it has been a challenge, athletes say it has ultimately been an incredible source of relief and normalcy to get back out on the field of play.

“I saw a lot of smiling faces,” said head men’s and women’s golf coach Ed Karpovich. “I commend the teams for their commitment to safety. Although it was different with no [Landmark] Conference championship to prepare for, everyone worked hard on their game with a dedicated effort on improving. We were able to pull off some great competitive intrasquad matches. The teams were really fired up for that and it was nice to see our competitive juices in action.

"Scranton's golf teams are . . . a family, and we were able to keep that atmosphere during these most difficult times.” - Ed Karpovich, Golf Coach

“But the most gratifying result was that the upperclassmen got to meet, greet and bond with the freshmen. Scranton's golf teams are more than that, we are a family, and we were able to keep that atmosphere during these most difficult times.”

Despite such adverse conditions, some programs went the extra mile to make the experience as normal as possible for their student-athletes. 

mens-soccer---4.jpgThe women’s soccer program, for example, celebrated their seniors in between two sessions of a Friday practice with head coach Colleen Pivirotto reading through a script of their accomplishments, something that normally is done at one of the last regular-season home game of the season for the Royals.

Coach Pivirotto also organized a Zoom call with her entire team in which she asked, “How well do you know your seniors?” Teammates shared stories and played games.

Both the women’s soccer and field hockey programs, meanwhile, kept a yearly tradition alive of dressing up for practice before Halloween.

Traditionally, women’s soccer dresses up for Halloween according to their class year. Going into 2020, the senior class had never won the competition. But, this year, their “senior prom” costumes took first place.

All Scranton teams hope that their seasons can be played in the near future.

Fans are reminded that updates will be constant on Scranton athletics’ website: The athletics department will also update all social media channels as schedules come through, which fans can do on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @RoyalAthletics.

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