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Penn State Fall Sports Coaches React To Postponed Seasons

The Big Ten sent college sports into a frenzy Tuesday afternoon when it announced it will postpone fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The conference’s ruling affects all fall sports, including football, women’s volleyball, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country. The Big Ten said it’s currently evaluating “a number of options” and could potentially compete next spring.

Bottom line is, things look rough for Penn State’s fall sports. The Nittany Lions’ coaches quickly issued statements supporting the decision and offering words of encouragement to student-athletes, staff members, fans, and everyone in between.

Cross country head coaches John Gondak and Angela Reckart got the ball rolling by releasing a joint statement, saying they’re supportive of the move to cancel the season but disappointed student-athletes will miss out on opportunities to play.

“Our students have persevered through uncharted waters for months and we are so proud of how they have handled these trying times in the classroom, as well as preparing for the fall season of competition,” Gondak and Reckart wrote. “Our student-athletes have trained so diligently to be ready to represent Penn State during these times of uncertainty and we are disappointed they won’t be able to represent our great institution this fall.”

Penn State field hockey head coach Char Morett-Curtiss continued that sentiment with a statement of her own. She said Tuesday was “a very hard day” for her team but acknowledged the decision was ultimately the right one.

“We as the Penn State Field Hockey team will continue to do our part in keeping ourselves and those around us safe by abiding by the local, university and state guidelines as we work to get through this together,” Morett-Curtiss said. “We hope our Penn State Field Hockey family of athletes, alumni and fans remain safe and healthy through these uncertain times.”

Men’s soccer head coach Jeff Cook took a more emotional approach, saying he’s “devastated” his team won’t take the field this fall but will be ready to do so once the pandemic subsides. After a breakthrough season in 2019, Cook’s squad would’ve returned with heightened expectations thanks to its returning veterans.

“The Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall sports is one we have been dreading, but it was made in the best interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community,” Cook wrote. “Everyone at Penn State, especially our players, have done everything possible to prepare to play this fall.”

Erica Dambach, women’s soccer’s head coach, echoed many statements in saying Penn State and the Big Ten put student-athletes’ health and safety first when making the call. However, she remains ultimately disappointed with the outcome.

“I am saddened [student-athletes] won’t be able to showcase their talents this fall, but we will be ready for the next time we can be out on Jeffrey Field and represent our great institution,” Dambach said.

Finally, women’s volleyball head coach Russ Rose rounded out the coaches’ statements. Rose, who would’ve started his 42nd season with the Nittany Lions in just a few weeks, stated his team did well to prepare for the season and will ultimately come back strong once play resumes.

“I am proud of the way the women on this team have handled the situation and the work they have put in to create a safe and healthy environment during early-season workouts and practice,” Rose wrote. “I am confident they will continue those efforts and we will come back as strong as ever. We look forward to the next chance we get to represent Penn State.”

Interestingly, football head coach James Franklin has been radio silent since the Big Ten bit the bullet. Meanwhile, some of his student-athletes took to social media to voice their disappointment and share their thoughts on a truly unexpected development.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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