As we all know, and it has become a cliche to say, COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of life. One of the most drastic changes occurred in the realm of sports.
When COVID-19 began hitting the U.S. hard last March, all spring semester sports (baseball, softball, track & field, golf, and tennis here at MC) had the rest of their seasons cancelled. Many seniors had played the last games of their careers without even knowing it. The athletes in all of those sports had aspirations of competing for conference, and potentially even national, championships. Those were cut short as we as a country had to come to grips with how to deal with this virus.
When colleges around the country reconvened in August, it was still deemed too early for many “high-contact” sports (especially at the Division II level) to begin playing. The Gulf South Conference decided to push back most fall sports (and winter sports for that matter) until at least Jan. 1. That meant that football, volleyball, and men’s and women’s soccer could not play last semester here at MC. It also meant that the men’s and women’s basketball teams could not begin their season until January.
The only sports that competed last semester here at MC were cross country and golf. These often overlooked sports teams got the opportunity to step into the spotlight, and they competed at a high level. The cross country teams broke school records left and right. The women’s team finished second at the GSC championship meet, while the men’s team finished fourth. There was also some history made on the golf course with MC’s women’s golf program making their program debut in October. The men’s golf team also took strides forward and set several school records of their own.
Now as we turn the page to this semester, things are going to be drastically different, but in a good way. The spring semester sports will be able to begin playing again, and hopefully do what they could not last year and compete for conference titles. Also, those fall sports that couldn’t play last semester are getting the opportunity to play in modified seasons this semester. So, after a very empty fall semester (outside of cross country meets and golf tournaments), this spring semester will be the most slam-packed semester of sports, maybe in MC history.
MC’s athletic director and men’s basketball head coach Mike Jones said he is excited about the prospects of this busy semester: “I’m excited about all the sports being able to at least play some games. Our spring sports being able to play championships this year after they didn’t get to last year. Our fall sports, they worked it to where they’ll be able to play some games. Maybe not a full schedule, but it’ll be an exciting semester. It’ll be a busy semester for everyone, including y’all, but we’re looking forward to it.”
“Busy” is maybe an understatement. The list of MC teams with events currently scheduled this semester include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s track & field, baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, and volleyball. That’s right, 14 (16 if you differentiate indoor and outdoor track) programs currently scheduled to compete in this spring semester.
The GSC, MC, and the other schools in the conference have been working for months to be able to get to this point in as safe a manner as possible. The athletes have made many sacrifices in order to be able to return to play this semester. Even though it will be a busy semester, and games are very likely to get moved around, this busyness is a welcome change.