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Junior college sports: No volleyball this fall for Ridgewater Warriors, but clay target season is on

MCAC presidents decide Monday to cancel most fall sports because of pandemic; Ridgewater volleyball coach calls it 'shocking'

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Ridgewater freshman middle blocker Baylee Larsen goes for a kill during a match against Minnesota State-Fergus Falls on Sept. 4, 2019. On Monday, the MCAC announced that the 2020 fall volleyball, football and soccer seasons have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrick Bernadeau/West Central Tribune

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference announced its decision to cancel three fall sports on Monday.

In a press release, it was announced that the presidents of the MCAC schools in Minnesota met to determine how to move forward with athletics amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made to cancel the volleyball, football and soccer seasons. Clay target and golf will proceed with their fall schedule.

“In consideration of the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, fall sports will be limited to those that have been identified as low-risk, clay target and golf,” the press release said.

Winter sports practice in the fall for basketball, baseball, softball and wrestling will also be prohibited during the fall semester. The release also said discussions about the potential for spring seasons are continuing and guidance will be provided in the near future.

Ridgewater College, a member of the MCAC, offers volleyball and trap shooting in the fall.

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Warriors head volleyball coach Erica Smith said that the coaches in the conference were optimistic about the fall season prior to the announcement Monday.

“We didn’t know how it would look but we were very positive it would be happening,” Smith said. “Then we got the news it would not be happening, which is obviously very disappointing. But at the same time, COVID has thrown a loop into pretty much everything, so it’s not completely unexpected. The safety of the student-athletes, staff and faculty is the number one priority. There’s nothing you can argue with.”

Smith added, “It was shocking, but I’m glad we do have a decision. The girls know what to expect and I know what to expect.”

Prior to the late-afternoon announcement, Smith reached out to the players to deliver the news and to encourage the players to continue their education at Ridgewater.

“All the girls understood completely that it’s out of our control,” Smith said. “They know the severity of what’s going on in the state and in the country. … The biggest thing was talking to them about the importance of an education and letting college sports be there for them in the future, and making sure they’re still very excited to be a part of Ridgewater. It was great to hear from them all and they were all excited about being here.”

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Erica Smith

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