Fall sports returned this year after the long COVID-19-induced hiatus. It’s the first time that the freshman and sophomore classes have been able to experience a football, volleyball or soccer game on campus or annual events like the Augustana Twilight.
In fall 2020, athletes were struck with the realization that they would not be able to compete in their sports for another calendar year, so they practiced and lifted all semester instead of preparing and playing games every week.
“Not having a season last fall was very difficult for everyone,” junior volleyball outside-hitter Kate Reimann said. “Practicing every day but without the purpose of playing in matches was very challenging. However, during this time, I learned a lot about myself and the sport of volleyball.”
Freshman students last year drew the short end of the stick. They came to college and were told to socially distance instead of being able to attend sporting events.
For non-athletes, attending fall sporting events is one of the main things freshmen can do on campus. They’re easy to get to, packed with their peers and a fun activity to do on the weekends or at night. Not having home football game days on Saturdays took away several opportunities for freshmen to make themselves feel at home in Sioux Falls.
“Having been a freshman last year, we missed out on a lot of the things that you look forward to doing when you first come to college,” sophomore Katie Ihrke said. “Not being able to attend sporting events was an unintended, but still unfortunate, repercussion of COVID-19 restrictions.”
These limitations are looser this year than last fall. Masks are no longer required outside. Even with masks being required indoors, students are still able to feel a sense of normalcy walking around campus.
Not having masks required outside allows for football, soccer and other outdoor sporting events to feel like normal again.
“Despite being necessary to keep us all healthy, the restrictions made it that much more difficult to have the college experience that we had all imagined,” Ihrke said. “That’s why this year it was much more meaningful and exciting to be able to go to games and cheer on our school.”
Augustana sports have taken full advantage of the home field this fall. Football, soccer and volleyball have not lost at home this year. Women’s golf won their home tournament, and both men’s and women’s cross country teams took second in a loaded Twilight field.
Losing a season of competition gave athletes a lot of time to think about how much they love their sport.
“I would never choose the circumstances of last fall, but not being able to compete quickly made me realize that my reason for playing needed to change,” Reimann said. “I took the opportunity to allow my faith to play a bigger role in my sport and focused on the fun of playing volleyball with my friends. Both of these factors positively impacted many aspects of my life.”
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