Sierra Cardenas was more than frustrated.
The Colorado State University-Pueblo women’s soccer coach has been waiting to see if her team was going to have a season this fall.
Then, this past Monday, the decision came down from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The fall season, while delayed, is a go.
"It was difficult for me not to have direction or clear vision moving forward in preparation for the season," Cardenas said. "It was hard for me to be in limbo.
Now, I’m pleased to have direction."
The women’s soccer program is one of four sports that received the go-ahead to prepare for the fall season. The RMAC decision revealed that schools will compete in conference-only schedules starting Sept. 18. Also, it announced that the start of fall sports practices have been delayed until Aug. 24.
While there are many rules and regulations to follow with the presence of COVID-19, the opportunity to play is paramount for coaches and players.
Cardenes understands that and is making sure her team understands the opportunity that is at hand.
"The approach I’m taking with my team more than any other year is that we have to have fun," she said. "We’re going to work hard, compete and make sure we enjoy it.
"Any practice, any game could be our last. If we get two weeks, a month, a whole season. We are going to have the most fun we can. It’s daunting to think it could all be over at any moment so we’re going to take advantage of what we have been given. That’s all we can do."
CSU-Pueblo volleyball coach Austin Albers just wants to get his players on the floor for an opportunity to compete.
"We’re excited for the opportunity, excited to compete and we’re also excited to take on challenges competing in the COVID era," Albers said. "As a team we preach we over me. All hands on deck and we’ll do all the things for our team to stay healthy so we can compete.
"It’s not going to be a traditional experience. Our athletes have to grow up and mature and treat this thing as an opportunity. It’s definitely going to be different."
Albers is adamant about keeping his athletes safe.
"Safety protocols will be in place and we’ll get on board and put athletes at the forefront," he said. "
Albers is ecstatic about getting the chance to just play.
"As coaches and players we want an opportunity to show what we can do," Albers said. "We want to show all the progress we’ve made from last season even though it’s a short season, especially coming off a season where we were able to turn things around, build our fan base and continue to build."
Cardenas is going to try and make practice and her team’s approach as normal as possible.
"We’re still going to train and work as if it’s a normal year," she said. "As far as our mental approach, we’ve been away from the game and I haven’t seen my team since March. It makes me appreciate the game more."
Oliver Twelvetrees, who takes over the men’s soccer program, is looking forward to having a season.
"I was really excited we learned we are able to play that conference schedule," Twelvetrees said. "Once I told the players they were ecstatic. Everybody wants to do what they do, get the opportunity to compete, be with teammates, study and train.
"It’s been a long time coming and their are a lot of the unknowns. But we’re really excited to get started."
Twelvetrees wasn’t bothered by the push back to start practice and the season at later dates.
"My perspective is that will give me 31/2 weeks to prepare," he said. "To have nearly four weeks of the preseason with my team without interruption is a wonderful time to learn, get on the same page and develop.
"We have quite a lot of new players coming in. All of them are committed to me and we’re kind of trying to create something special in our own way. We just wanted a chance."
As for a shortened season from 18 games to 10, Twelvetrees isn’t complaining.
"We’re ready to get going," Twelvetrees said. "It’s 10 games, not 18 games but it’s a season and a chance to get on the pitch and train with the guys and build the culture and build the program."
Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at twitter.com/JeffLetofsky. Help support local journalism with a subscription to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow.