The West Virginia men’s soccer team is getting ready for a much different fall season than any other year — a season with no competition.
At the beginning of August, the Mid-American Conference announced that all fall sports would be postponing competition until at least the spring semester.
WVU head soccer coach Dan Stratford said that his team found out about the plans for the season in a different way than normal.
“It was something [that] had gotten leaked on Twitter, and one of the other coaches made it aware that the potential announcement was coming on that Saturday morning,” Stratford said.
With the announcement becoming official, it was time to take action as to how the extended offseason would look.
“We’re almost essentially reversing the spring semester and the fall semester, so we’re kind of operating under what would normally be our spring allotted hours right now,” Stratford said of how his team is practicing in the meantime.
The change in plans hasn’t been a bad thing, according to Stratford, with the team being off the field and home for so long.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if that’s been the worst thing in the world,” Stratford said. “Just given the guys have had so much time off and [have had] such an extended break between when we finished in March to now, and that limited hours has almost served them well to kind of build them back up from a physiological standpoint.”
Even as the fall semester starts on campus at West Virginia, there are still players that have not been able to make it back to Morgantown.
“We’re still dealing with players coming in internationally, serving quarantines and we don’t have everyone available just yet.”
As soon as all of the players are able to return to the United States and get back to Morgantown, it will be a lot easier to get a normal schedule going for workouts, according to Stratford.
“Once we have everyone medically cleared to be in a situation where, perhaps, we’re turning our attention to a greater volume of practices and a more consistent training schedule in the heart of the fall semester," Stratford said.
Stratford is also one of the coaches involved in meetings with the MAC, planning how the upcoming season will look and what they want to do with the amount of games played, if there will be a conference tournament or even an NCAA Tournament. He is hoping they will have more answers about these and more coming up in the next few weeks.
“I know that the intent of the conference, not just with men’s soccer but with other sports as well, we want to have some of these answers prior to Oct. 1, so hopefully within the next four to six weeks we are able to formalize a plan," Stratford said.
Even though this is a time that no one could have predicted, Stratford is understanding that this situation is something that everyone must work together on to make it happen.
“This is a new normal for everyone, and every conference is trying to navigate that in their own way so it will be interesting to see if it remains a conference-based decision or just how much input there will be from the NCAA," Stratford said.