Competition for Grand Rapids Community College’s spring sports teams – including golf, baseball, and softball – has been suspended until April 3 in hopes to suppress the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The news was announced March 13 in a press release from GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray, containing the statement by GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn.
“It’s disappointing to put the seasons on hold, but we know it’s the right thing to do,” Firn stated. “It is GRCC’s goal to look after the safety and security of our student-athletes. They are the focus of our decisions now and moving forward. We hope we’ll be able to get back on the field as soon as we can.”
A situation similar to this has never occurred in GRCC’s athletic history. Colleges across the United States have banded together in hopes to fight the virus, and thousands of student-athletes aren’t happy with their seasons ending so abruptly.
Sophomore pitcher Garrett Cheslek has played 14 games for the Raiders baseball team – three games coming from this season. Like all other college athletes, Cheslek strongly believes those who are in their final seasons as a player for any sport should be eligible for another season.
“I know that this is in the discussion, but we haven’t played a tenth of our season yet,” he said. “It would be a total loss for all players if they weren’t granted their eligibility back.”
Cheslek added, “As an athlete, I am concerned for not only myself but for others. The way society is reacting to this situation makes me concerned for the future.”
Having your final season in a uniform end and having no power to change the situation would be frustrating to any athlete. Although, there are multiple Divison I and even II players that have their journeys paved out sooner than most. Freshman Dominic Luciani, a pillar for GRCC’s men’s golf team, believes most second-year/senior players already have plans in line, so another season of eligibility may seem unnecessary.
“We worked all year round to prove ourselves as players just to end up with a short season in a matter of days,” he said. “This was unfortunate for all players, although most of those who were planning to transfer already have plans so an extra year doesn’t make sense.”
Schools, businesses, sports teams, and society in general are being affected by this pandemic and most agree the main focus should be allowing little to no exposure to this virus.
Freshman first-baseman Jenna VanKempen of the women’s softball team wishes the season suspension wasn’t the reality but knows that public health should be the main focus for everyone.
“I know I speak for most athletes out there when I say this is probably one of the worst possible outcomes that could have been brought upon us,” she said. “Our team and the public’s health comes first. I think if our season isn’t completely canceled we will be happy to have another chance to play together, but since we aren’t able to practice at the moment the season might not end the way we want.”
The Collegiate reached out but did not hear back from any GRCC coaches by the time this story was published. Check back for updates to this story.