Saints student athletes navigate sudden stop to seasons

SCCC provides support for housing, next steps

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, its impact is felt by student-athletes who rely on collegiate athletics to guide their course. In concert with its national and state governing bodies (NJCAA and KJCCC), Seward County Community College has cancelled all athletic events through the rest of the academic year. 

The decision, said SCCC Athletic Director Dan Artamenko, was a sobering one. 

“We are sad and we really feel for the students that were affected,” he said. “Many of our sophomores were relying on the season to be recruited and choose which school they wanted to transfer to.  Now they might not be able to receive a scholarship and will have to decide where to go to school without ever visiting.”

For now, coaches and support staff have stepped in to work with SCCC’s diverse group of athletes from more than 10 countries, as well as various parts of the U.S. 

“Coaches are being proactive and reaching out to individuals and their families, trying to communicate what they know,” said Artamenko. “We also held a special meeting for our international students this week, to help them look at their options. The reality is that they chose to come to the U.S. because of athletics, and now that the seasons are cancelled, they are not sure what to do next.”

With SCCC’s dorms remaining open to students who need on-campus housing, student-athletes don’t have to fret about homelessness. However, with coursework moving to a nearly-exclusively online mode, many students “just want to go home,” Artamenko said. 

Various international responses dictate their options, as do finances. 

All their choices are built around it. Most are worried about where they are going to live, and when they decide that, how to complete their classes. Athletic questions are getting delayed a little bit.  

Saints AD Dan Artamenko

Artamenko said he is comfortable with the NJCAA’s decision to cancel. 

“I do not feel it was rushed as the NJCAA was the last athletic organization to make the decision,” he said. “The reality is that once the CDC recommended less than gathering of 50 people, it meant that it would be impossible to host in any athletic events until at least the middle of May.” 

In the big picture, he added, “athletics is such a small piece of what is going on. My wife is a nurse in the emergency room and her bad days are much different than what we are dealing with. We have to keep that in perspective.”

Even so, he pointed out that “athletics to both coaches and players is normally so much of who they are — it’s their identity. Coaches may feel that they have lost their purpose in helping students, and many of these students, while here for an education, have suddenly lost their identity that was helping them receive an education. Let’s make sure we are helping everyone through these tough times because mental health is just as important as physical health.”

All athletes of spring sports (baseball, softball, and tennis) will not be charged with a year of eligibility.  They will still have four seasons to play, although in order to do so at SCCC, Artamenko noted, “they would have to go to school for three years here.  Many might have to transfer next year and then use 3 seasons at their 4-yr school. Their last season they might have to take extra classes after they graduate.”

“As for next year,” he said, “we will be ready to go as we are still recruiting new students to come to SCCC.”

Read more at these sites:  

NJCAA Frequently Asked Questions for student athletes

International Student travel information

 

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