QUINCY -- Mike Carpenter believes the Quincy University men's soccer players were braced for Monday's announcement the Great Lakes Valley Conference was postponing a majority of fall sports until the spring.
"They expected some kind of adjustment," said Carpenter, the QU soccer coach who held a Zoom meeting with his players Monday morning. "As I went through it and described it as giving us the best opportunity for a full season, they understood. They want to play games and don't want that taken away.
"Ideally, they'd like to have their season on time like they normally would in the fall, but at least they get to have it sometime throughout the year."
That's the silver lining coaches are embracing.
The GLVC became the 11th of 23 NCAA Division II conferences to postpone fall competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing the decision late Monday morning after its 15 members schools were able to inform their student-athletes. The GLVC will implement a hybrid plan in which a majority of its fall championships will shift to the spring, while sports allowing more social distancing will continue to compete.
Football, men's and women's soccer and women's volleyball will be played in the spring with conference-only games being scheduled. Cross country will compete in the fall with the GLVC Championships scheduled for October 24. Golf and tennis are allowed to compete in non-championship events in the fall with the GLVC Championships in the spring.
"When it comes down to it, it's about the health and safety of these young men and making sure we don't put them in a bad position," QU football coach Gary Bass said. "I tell them to keep their heads up and remind them we're having a season. This doesn't mean the season is gone."
No decisions have been made regarding the winter sports schedules. The GLVC has set an October 1 deadline to determine the start date for men's and women's basketball and wrestling.
"We remain optimistic that we can provide our student-athletes impacted by today's news with meaningful opportunities to engage with their teammates and coaches throughout the fall semester to prepare for the planned return to competition in the spring," GLVC commissioner Jim Naumovich said.
The student-athlete experience is foremost on the minds of coaches.
"How we define that as competition, access to resources, college scholarships varies, but a huge part of the student-athlete experience is a healthy student-athlete experience," QU women's soccer coach Samuel Thomas said. "Whether it's injury resistance or monitoring mental health, that's a huge priority for me. We have to keep them safe and healthy. It's good to see the conference behind that.
"That's why this decision is important and had to be made."
The football, soccer and volleyball programs will be allowed to have training days and intrasquad scrimmages throughout the fall, much the way they have traditionally done in the spring. All workouts and scrimmages will have to adhere to NCAA and COVID-19 regulations.
Since those gatherings were wiped out last spring, the QU coaches see this as beneficial in getting their teams prepared for competition.
"We haven't played football since last November and some of these kids haven't had the ability to run or lift since March, depending on where they're at," Bass said. "It's important for them to be able to run and lift and for us to go through practices with teaching just to get their bodies back to where they need to be for a season.
"Had we played, I think you would have seen a lot more injuries. Their bodies weren't going to be ready to play. So the best way for us to get in our season was to move it to the spring. So the best way for our guys to be healthy and ready to play was to move it to the spring."