This Spring, the Shenandoah University football team kicked off their first ever Spring season. They were forced to play in the Spring, instead of the Fall, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did the virus cause the season to be rescheduled, but it had other negative effects, as it shortened the season, put limits on attendance, prevented visiting team fans from attending games, and similar changes. These changes hurt the program.
Head coach Scott Yoder believes the whole situation hurt the experience for his players. “I think it negatively impacted the student athlete experience” says Yoder. “I think it hurt team chemistry because many kids left the school either from health concerns and/or the student athlete experience was drastically different.”
“Unfortunately, every time you look into the crowd or know your family can’t come to away games, you are reminded of the pandemic.”
Yoder also talks about how the organization shifting, and sharing with the other teams that are now playing in the Spring made things harder. “The strain on facilities and medical personnel is very real. All programs are sharing the facilities, including games. Our athletic trainers are stretched incredibly thin.”
“The unknown of the schedule, the constant changing had a negative impact on our team.”
But Yoder also says there are some positives to this situation. “The 3-4 hours we are actually competing is the most normal we have felt in the past 10-12 months” he says. “For the younger guys, it gave them more practices and time to acclimate for college football.” “August is right around the corner and no matter the degree of challenges we are faced with, I know that this Spring season gives us valuable experience for the Fall.”