Monday, January 25, 2021

Fall BYU Olympic sports canceled with WCC announcement

The West Coast Conference announced Aug. 13 it is postponing all fall competition due to COVID-19 risks, canceling all BYU fall sports but football.

“With the health and safety of student-athletes and everyone connected with the West Coast Conference guiding all discussions, the WCC has postponed all conference fall competition,” the conference’s official announcement says.

The BYU fall sports included in this announcement are women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country. The WCC originally delayed the start of the fall season until Sept. 24 but with the ongoing pandemic and the risks that come with traveling college teams it decided to forego the season altogether.

BYU’s social media accounts posted messages from the coaches of the teams who had their seasons canceled before they could even begin. Their words echoed the disappointment many fans around the country are feeling at this moment but also expressed confidence in their teams to continue to prepare and compete at the highest level when their sports return.

The BYU men’s cross country team was looking forward to defending the national championship the Cougars earned last fall but head coach Ed Eyestone reiterated that, “the number one priority is the safety of our student-athletes.”

Women’s cross country head coach Diljeet Taylor shared the heartbreak many student-athletes are feeling after spending their summers preparing and working toward a fall season.

“I am confident that my women will continue to train hard with goals of future success in mind,” Taylor said. “I have no doubt we will get the opportunity to chase our dreams again. These are trying times, but we believe the comeback is always greater than the setback.”

While the coaches expressed disappointment, they also showed understanding for the unique situation the world is currently in and trust in the conference’s decision.

BYU women’s soccer reached the Sweet 16 in last season’s NCAA Tournament, and head coach Jennifer Rockwood mentioned the effort and preparation the team has put into this offseason.

“(We) hope that in time competition can continue and student-athletes can get back to playing the game they love,” Rockwood said in a statement.

BYU women’s volleyball coach Heather Olmstead joined with her fellow fall coaches in expressing her devastation over the news of the postponed season but also shared optimism that her team will find success, despite the uncertainty.

“Although we don’t know what the future holds, I am certain our team will respond to this challenge and come out better because of it,” Olmstead said. “We can’t wait until we can compete in front of (the fans) again, whether it’s on the road or at home. We’ll be back stronger than before.”

Olmstead shared with BYU Sports Nation on Aug. 14 that her team will continue to practice, despite the postponed season and lack of games. She mentioned the players’ individual desires to improve as the main reason they will continue to practice.

The WCC mentioned in the announcement that it remains committed to working with schools to ensure a safe environment to conduct the men’s and women’s basketball seasons in the winter.

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