SAN ANTONIO – “We knew it was coming, but to see it in writing, to see the announcement was still hard to swallow.”
Throughout the summer, head coach Julie Jenkins and the Trinity volleyball team remained cautiously optimistic, hoping that their season would continue as scheduled. But when the time came to start planning for practices, there were just too many unanswered questions.
On July 16, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference officially canceled the fall sports season. The Tigers, stacked with a young team and built to compete at the national level after an appearance in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament last year, suddenly found themselves without a season to look forward to.
“You just feel horrible for your student athletes,” Jenkins said. “Your college years are some of the best years of your life, and to have to be able to experience a pandemic is difficult for everybody. You sure don’t wish that on these college-age student athletes. I hate that for them.”
While the team’s current situation certainly stings, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no hope at all for a chance to play volleyball during this school year. Since the majority of college athletic programs have canceled their volleyball season, the possibility still remains of conference teams playing a shortened season this spring.
The NCAA extended an extra year of eligibility to all athletes who have had their season schedules shortened by at least 50% or canceled outright due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the majority of the Tigers will stay together for another season. Trinity also happens to be one of the few universities in the nation that will allow workouts on campus this fall, a huge boon for a team that has been maturing with each and every practice.
“I’m really hoping that we can have some official competition this spring,” Jenkins said. “It would be a long time to wait. It would basically be a year and a half if we had to wait until the fall of 2021. But the team will do it. They’re so grateful to be able to train this fall. I think they are unbelievably motivated to get another opportunity and go for a championship. We’ll deal with changes as they come, and we’ll make the most of it. Whatever opportunities we get, we’ll just be happy to have that.”
Time will tell if the Tigers get any opportunity to play this spring, but with nearly every starter returning next season, you can expect big things out of Trinity in the future.