by Kelsey Wynn | Editor in Chief

SCRANTON – As many Royals begin their return to campus for the first time since in-person class cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in March, increased health guidelines and decreased classroom capacities are not the only adaptations occurring. Hundreds of student athletes are now coping with their first Scranton fall without competition.

The University of Scranton is a member of the Landmark Conference in 22 of the 23 National College Athletic Association Division III athletic programs it sponsors. Along with several other conferences across the NCAA divisions including the Ivy League, the Patriot League, Big Ten Conference and Big East Conference, the Landmark Conference announced the cancellation of fall championships on August 5.

“This decision does not change the Landmark’s current intent of exploring regular season and conference postseason options for fall sports teams to compete in the spring,” the Landmark Conference report said.

Senior Christina Motz, Glenside, began her field hockey career in fourth grade and said she was upset that the normal fall field hockey season she had experienced for 12 years had changed. However, Motz said she is optimistic her team will do everything they can to adjust and be happy and proud of what they make possible during this time.

“A possible spring season is certainly different than what we are used to, but I am happy to still have a possible opportunity to play! We will be able to adjust, especially since we have been adjusting so well during this pandemic,” Motz said.

Outside hitter Jillian Graham, Wantagh, N.Y., said she is also sad to have her last season postponed after playing volleyball since fifth grade, but matched Motz’s confidence in her Scranton family’s resiliency and motivation to succeed despite changing circumstances.

“I would tell [fellow student athletes] to look forward to getting to play in the spring and remember to be grateful that we get to go back to school and see each other because a lot of other schools were not so fortunate,” Graham said.

As student athletes continue to support each other, Scranton athletics staff are standing behind the conference’s decision, calling it a necessary action for the safety and well-being of the student athletes, coaches and staff. Colleen Pivirotto, Assistant Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Soccer Coach, also extended her support to student athletes coping with the decision.

“We will make the most of any opportunity we are provided on and off the field. Remember that you are never alone and you have the love and support of your teammates, coaches and entire Scranton community,” Pivirotto said.

Dave Martin, Director of Athletics, said that as his heart also goes out to all the student athletes, Scranton will continue exploring potential athletically-related opportunities in efforts to keep student athletes engaged this fall.

“While these are challenging times, there is still much each of us can do to prepare for competition in the spring. I’m very proud of our student athletes and the way they have handled this adversity,” Martin said.

As a testament to that, Motz said she plans to enter this school year with a positive attitude about what lies ahead for her final field hockey season and Scranton athletics in general.

“We are all in this together! We are the record-holding reigning champions for the Landmark Conference, and if we can make that possible we can make anything possible,” Motz said.

The Landmark Conference will issue a status report by October 15, including updates to its winter and spring championships and information concerning future athletic program schedules.