Freshman J’vaun Walker takes a shot during men’s basketball practice on Oct. 24. The men’s basketball season, which was scheduled to begin with an intrasquad series on Nov. 13, is currently on hiatus due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Photo by Holden Law

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike, especially in our home state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Superior has been forced to make many alternations to provide the best, and safest, experience possible for students. One of these alterations has been the recent announcement of the cancellation of athletic activities for the remainder of the fall semester.

The final decision came down on Tuesday, Nov. 10 when Chancellor Reneé Wachter updated the campus on changes being made due to the pandemic. Included in this update was the suspension of all athletic activities, along with the movement of all in-person events to a virtual format. The decision came just a few days after Superior High School’s decision to move online indefinitely.

The athletic teams at UW-Superior have had an abnormal fall season. Despite a lack of outside competition, the teams found ways to keep student-athletes in competition. The motivation that stemmed from the attempt to give our athletes an opportunity to compete, practice, and be together led to the creation of a “Super Series” that many of the teams participated in.

As part of this Super Series, the various teams played intrasquad games. To this point, these games were the only slice of athletics that we have been able to capture. With both the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), the two athletic conferences that UWS is a member of, announcing a suspension of their fall seasons over the summer, the intrasquad games have served as a worthy substitute.

The coming together of the players and coaches gave an alternative that allowed students to feel a sense of competition throughout the limitation filled season. Head Volleyball Coach Lynne Deadrick praised the intrasquad games, saying, “The intensity level is still there. It also helps that the games are set up just as they were before.” If the pandemic progresses at its current rate, we may see a reconfiguration of the winter and spring seasons as well. If this happens, we may see more of these instrasquad games, as both the coaches and the players had a positive outlook on the activity.

The current cancellation is putting a halt on all athletic activities, including the aforementioned intramural games. Athletic Director Nick Bursik is hopeful that winter sports will be able to participate after the holiday break. Looking ahead, Bursik pointed out that the pause “Does not impact any of our team’s schedules as we were not slated to compete until January when the conference seasons start.”

The cancelation does not affect the teams much outside of the few winter sports that were gearing up to participate in their own intrasquad games. This includes the men’s basketball team, who was planning to start their own version of the Super Series on Nov. 13. The game never happened as the decision to suspend activities was announced just a few days before.

Uncertainty has been a major factor of the coronavirus pandemic, and as our campus community looks forward to having the opportunity of winter and spring sports, it must be remembered that safety and health are at the forefront of concern. UW-Superior has committed to putting the health and safety of their students and the community first. These factors will continue to have an effect on all activities, including social sporting events.

While it’s okay to have some cautious optimism that a season may happen, COVID-19 rates continue to soar and the final product we receive may not be close to what is regularly anticipated. As Tennis Coach CeeJay Scaffner put it, “With every pushback, we never really knew what the next step was because no one had ever been in a situation as problematic as COVID.”

We may not get an answer until the day it is supposed to happen, but if we continue to work together as the coaches and players did throughout the fall season, we should remain opportunistic. While it is not guaranteed, there might just be some level of participation this winter and spring.