LCCC athletes crushed after virus cancels spring seasons

The spring season for the Laramie County Community College rodeo team just getting started before it was canceled because of COVID-19.

“It was something that was very hard to hear, ”said rodeo athlete Ian McGivney. “I was really bummed out and felt bad for my coaches and teammates as well. We were just getting into the groove of things with practice and were really prepared to go to Gillette. To hear news like that, it’s just discouraging.”

According to head coach Seth Glause, they are following precautions as they come out from the institution as well as guidance from the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. As of April 8, officials canceled the College National Finals Rodeo, which was set for June 14-20.

“We were sad to find out (of the cancellation),” Glause said. “It’s heartbreaking for all the qualifiers. We know reaching the pinnacle of our sport takes a lot of hard work and dedication from students, parents and coaches.”

McGivney said he was “super excited” to have a chance at winning a national title, a chance he won’t get now.

“This was going to be my first trip to the college finals,” McGivney said. “I know that my good friend and teammate Bernard Girard was looking forward to finals as well, and I feel bad for him.”

Though they don’t have an official spring season with games and practices, Volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s basketball were still hurt by the closure of LCCC. Even in the off-season, the teams work hard to stay in shape.

“The biggest thing is just taking away time on the ball,” women’s head soccer coach Nate Ulness said. “We were working on a new style of play and transitioning between coaches, so it hurts in that aspect, but the practices we got in showed a tremendous amount of growth and confidence in the girls.”

Head Volleyball coach Keri Coats said the team was optimistic and trying to grow despite the cancellation.

“Our team is definitely upset that our spring training season has been cancelled,” she said. “We were lucky to get a scrimmage with the University of Wyoming before campus closed. We’ll be able to watch that film, as well as films from other matches this season to gain more insight regarding areas of improvement.”

For coaches, making sure their student-athletes stay on top of their classes and workouts is important. “We have had to use other forms of communication,” said women’s head basketball coach Brian Ortmeier, “in order to stay in touch and keep them up to date.”

Ulness said his team was “super focused” on individual workouts and staying fit and strong.

“We’ve been sending them workouts to do at home to stay occupied and get touches on the ball,” he said. 

Not having a spring off-season for games doesn’t help getting Golden Eagles recruited by bigger schools. “Our guys are not getting training from the coaching staff,” said Men’s head soccer coach Vince Gibson. “We had to cancel all of our spring games against four year universities, which hurts us in fixing formations and showcasing our players.

“The ‘stay in place’ also hurts in future recruiting for 2021 and 2022. I have a good start for 2021, but I need to be on the road, at high school games and at tournaments watching future Golden Eagles.” 

Most of the student athletes seemed to understand despite all the setbacks and hoped for a better year next year. 

“It’s hard for me to be mad about them cancelling it when there are people that are being greatly affected by the coronavirus,” McGivney said. I do plan to come back to LCCC. I’ll prepare to get back to college rodeos but  just getting on broncs as much as possible.”

Gibson said he looked forward to a better time. 

“Most importantly, I miss my team and co-workers,” Gibson said. “I miss the camaraderie and seeing them advance in school and on the field. I will miss the sophomores and all of their successes. I can’t wait to get back to work and see all of them again.”

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