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MCC reacts to spring sports cancellations

T-R FILE PHOTO - MCC’s Nell Skeath robs a home run during the Region XI Tournament on May 3, 2019, in Marshalltown. Skeath is one of three sophomores on the Tiger softball team whose season was ended prematurely.

Marshalltown Community College head softball coach Russ Jones knew as early as Friday that the Tigers’ season was in serious jeopardy. The Tigers were in Florida for an early-season tournament when, before the game, Jones and his coaching staff gathered the group together to deliver a speech. He had just seen the NCAA cancel its basketball tournament and felt it was a matter of time before his squad met a similar fate.

Give this game everything, Jones said to his team. We don’t know if this will be the last game of the season or not.

“We pretty much knew when we were down in Florida,” Jones said. “The girls were really starting to come together.”

The Tigers won 7-1 to finish their Florida trip with a 7-3 record, moving their season record to 8-8. But once the team got back to Marshalltown, the season was in doubt.

Monday afternoon, the season came to a complete stop as the NJCAA canceled all spring sports due to the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) — signaling the end of baseball and softball at MCC. Most sporting leagues across the United States have shut down entirely — from the NBA and NHL to March Madness and all NCAA spring sports. The sports world has ground to a halt, and the Tigers have felt the effects.

Baseball coach Anthony Everman said the administration at MCC has done a good job of communicating clearly with the teams and keeping them in the loop of decisions. He said that baseball should take a backseat given the situation.

“At the end of the day, baseball is not the most important thing right now,” Everman said. “We’re looking out for the safety of the kids.”

Athletic Director John Kriebs said the situation changed rapidly over the past week.

“Everything’s changing by the day, or really by the hour,” Kriebs said.

Kriebs said it was clearly the right decision to cancel the seasons. He felt it was inevitable once the NBA got suspended after the positive test of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert for the highly-contagious disease. Kriebs added that the best place for student-athletes to be is at home instead of on campus.

As for the student-athletes affected by the sudden cancellation, the NJCAA’s current plan is to provide an extra year of eligibility for participants who want to play again.

“I think it’s making the most of a bad situation,” Kriebs said.

However, Everman and Kriebs said the implementation of this legislation is up in the air. There are a lot of questions from coaches and administrators around the country about how this will affect scholarship requirements for the following season, and if it affects incoming recruits in the 2021 season.

The uncertainty is set to stay for a few months as the NJCAA figures out specifics. Such is life in a world vastly different than it was less than a month ago.

“Everything is so much up in the air,” Jones said.