NCAA offers all athletes an extra year of eligibility

Margaret Cecilio

The NCAA Division three recently announced that athletes who are unable to play 50% or less of their season competitions, due to cancelation from COVID-19, are granted an additional year of eligibility. For all athletes at Augustana this year, it is not unusual for their seasons to have been shortened, canceled, postponed or completely up in the air, so the additional year of play is a viable option for consideration. 
I am considering it. I’d love another chance to play one last full year of basketball with a full schedule and regular practices and staying would allow me to further explore career options going forward,” Jack Jelen, senior on the men’s basketball team, said.
“I’m actually attending Augie for my Masters in Speech Language Pathology, so I would love to play! Soccer has been such a big part of my life for so long, I’d take any extra time on the field that I can,” Cami Kekelik, senior on the women’s soccer team, said. 
However it is not the intention of all seniors to play another season. Senior Taylor Curley on the women’s volleyball team looks to her future differently.
I think it is awesome that the NCAA has extended athlete’s eligibility for another year, and I think for some this could be a really good opportunity,” she said. “I will not be looking into playing a fifth year though because I am currently in the process of applying for grad schools. I love the game of volleyball but I also have to keep my career and education goals in mind.”
For Augustana athletes, seniors in particular, they are facing a season like they could never have imagined in years prior. As varsity athletes, a senior season is more than just the last year you will play. It is filled with moments that players look forward to throughout years of hard work and sacrifice and then carry with them for years to come. Given the unpredictable nature of this past year, senior athletes are left with uncertainty but hopeful for their programs and themselves.
Each sports program looks a little different based on their needs and how they adapt to COVID-19 safety regulations. Still, all are trying to find the best ways to get the most out of the season. 
We started practice in October and we had to go about a month non-contact just doing drills, and this whole time we had our team split in half because we could only be practicing with about eight kids at a time. We just started doing full contact drills with the whole team but we just got shut down because a few kids got sick so we’re not practicing for the time being, ” Jelen said.
Although it is not ideal, there are still exciting moments for teams when they get a little taste of normalcy through scrimmages, online fans or even just contact and inter-squad play. 
“I think we have adapted more into how we are playing together right now and developing both as individuals and a team. We are a young team, with only five upperclassmen, so in a way it has been beneficial for us to get this much practice in and to build our team a bit more,” Curley said. 
“It has been a lot of practice but one of the best experiences I have had this year was when our scrimmage was live streamed. Just being able to put on that jersey and to actually play was a fantastic feeling,” Curley said. “It makes you realize a little bit how many little things we always took for granted, to live in the moment more, and be grateful for the experiences we are able to have.”
This year is obviously different, so I tried not to have many expectations because I wasn’t sure what to expect. The spring is still on as of right now, but that can change at any moment, but this fall has definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s pretty remarkable that we were able to practice for 10 weeks without being shut down due to COVID, that that’s something that I am really excited about,” Kekelik said.