DREW CARFRAE & CHRIS LUCAS, TRUMPET GUEST WRITERS
Wartburg Knights’ fall sport teams get seasons that look different, thanks to COVID-19 cancelling the typical fall seasons.
Each team will run a condensed season. Football takes the biggest hit with only three games this season. Their only home game will be against Luther College at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, at Walston-Hoover Stadium.
The Knights will attempt to have their first undefeated regular season since 2017. Rick Willis, head football coach, is optimistic about what can be accomplished during the spring season.
“The focus needs to be on development. It is not the same a striving for a championship, in many ways it is about starting to prepare for the 2021 Fall,” Willis said.
COVID-19 has also hit the volleyball team as they will play nine games this regular season as opposed to 30 regular season games a year ago. Last year, the Knights advanced to the American Rivers Conference (ARC) Championship game for the second year in a row against Dubuque, where they fell short to the Spartans. This year, they will work to improve while also trying to get through a season with so many question marks.
“Much like the rest of this past year, this volleyball season has been anything but ordinary. We are embracing each challenge, such as shifting our season to the spring and practicing every morning at 5:30 a.m. to grow stronger as a team,” Sydney Rottinghaus, fourth-year exercise science and business administration double major, said. “Our love for the game and each other has demonstrated the dedicated and competitive culture we have within our team. I am extremely proud of how each member of our team has handled this year and look forward to each moment we are lucky enough to experience together.”
Kylie Bildstein, fourth-year business administration major, said the team faced challenges together.
“I think the biggest challenge that our team encountered was our season moving to the spring, which also resulted in a much shorter season,” Bildstein said. “While this was a challenge, we came together as a team to make the most out of each opportunity we get. It has also allowed us to grow tremendously as a team.”
Douglas Frazell, co-head volleyball coach, described preparing for a spring season, which included fostering a good team environment and accepting challenges COVID-19 has posed.
“Change of rhythms of normal times of practice, matches, etc. And one big challenge has been not logistically being able to foster as many team culture development opportunities,” Frazell said. “But I want to give our players credit. From day one in August, they have handled this year with maturity, poise, and a class that has encouraged me, made me so proud of them and caused me to be even more grateful to get to be their coach.”
The Wartburg Women’s soccer team is coming off their first conference title and playoff bid since 2015. They also managed to host the playoff regionals where they came in second round to Pomona Pitzer. Despite their upcoming spring season being cut in half, they will still be looking to improve off that success.
The Wartburg Men’s soccer team will start off the season in cooler weather than they may be used to when they normally kickoff their season. The Knights will have the same amount of regular season as the women’s team with just eight games starting in March.
“Having the season move to the spring and the constant pressures given by the pandemic deflated the morale of the soccer team at first,” Misha Seebeck, third-year engineering major, said. “However, the guys have responded very well to adversity by being as productive as possible from fall training till now as we gear up for the spring season. “
All teams will have a spring season and are expected to have a fall season as well in the 2021-22 academic year. The one major issue the teams may face: being put into quarantine during the season.
“Watching players grow, develop, struggle, succeed and doing my part in helping them is what I love,” Frazell said. “I love getting to go on the journey each season of being with a group and team striving to win and competing to be our best … be better than the week before.”
For more information about the upcoming season, go to www.go-knights.net.