An empty playing field at Cleveland State University.
Courtsey of the Vikings athletic Department
A familiar sight at CSU and instiutions around the country, as COVID-19 pauses the college fall sports season for many

Cleveland State University postpones its fall sports season

The Cleveland State Vikings fall sports season was postponed in August due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision came when CSU along with other members of the Horizon League voted to suspend fall sports. The league says it will decide at a future date whether to play fall sports in spring 2021.

As players wait to see if their season will be played, it is not all doom and gloom. 

Sophomore Goalkeeper Omeed Naeemy on the Viking men's soccer team said it does hurt not to be playing. However, taking part in smaller team activities is helping him and the team during the postponement.

“We’ve been getting back to some light training with the captains running it,” Naeemy said. “We are following health guidelines set by the school and our coaches very closely while trying to do our best with the instructions given.”

“It’s not easy but for now we are all focused on getting back to full fitness and getting on the field after all the time we had off.”

While sports are on hold, work in the classroom is not. Naeemy said it is important to focus on academics while they wait for the season.

“Our coaches really demand a lot from us on and off the field. Our coaches have a goal to get a team of a 3.2 GPA, and they push us hard to keep focus on the school aspect of it."

"We practice from 10am-noon and after we are open," Naeemy said. "Some of the boys have classes online and some in person classes on campus. But it is our responsibility to achieve high marks in the class without falling behind.”

It can be hard for all the athletes to make the tough decisions on what they want to do during their free time when not on the field and away from the team.

Most of the team lives off campus together, and Naeemy says that with no restrictions it is challenging to pick and choose what to do. He says the team has to stay smart during a time like this.

“Ultimately we have to be smart and tough through these difficult times, and can’t be putting ourselves and others in danger,” Naeemy said. “ Living with others makes this process much more enjoyable rather than being on your own and we all get along well.”

COVID-19 has also presented difficulties for the CSU athletics front office.

Tyler Jones, the deputy athletics director of external operations, said the adversity is helping his team collaborate better.

Every challenge presents an opportunity for us to better collaborate with our constituencies,” Jones said. “Through this process we have become more accustomed to managing the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19.”

Trying to figure out a plan for the athletes to come back and start small team activities has not been easy. 

“Managing modifications of protocols prescribed by the NCAA, to managing updates coupled with mandates and recommendations set by local and state leadership, it can certainly present many challenges,” Jones said.

“It is a moving target,” he continued. “We believe our medical staff and campus leadership has done a terrific job providing us the necessary guidance to deliver a safe environment for our staff and student-athletes.”

Jones noted that although teams are allowed to practice during the postponement, they still have to follow the rules and protocols that are in place, including social distancing and masking.

“We have leaned on our medical experts to assist us in developing strong protocols for a modified training experience for all of our student-athletes,” Jones said. 

All teams are doing small group activities in "pods" to help limit potential spread, Jones said.

“We have taken a phased approach to ensure our student-athletes are afforded the proper acclimation prior to a safe return to competition."