• By Nina Arias

Some student-athletes opt out of season

The repercussions of COVID-19 stretch far and wide. It affects everyone in more ways than one. Small businesses have gone bankrupt, employers have had to let go of personnel, and the unemployment rate in the United States has skyrocketed. These are some of the more widely heard tales of misfortune caused by the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, the hardships continue farther down the line, specifically at the college level.

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) decided that all fall sports will be cancelled for the 2020 season due to the spread of COVID-19. While schools managed to pick up the pieces by allowing students to continue to practice on their own and keep their scholarships, sports have not been the same. With nothing to compete for, student-athletes are left feeling hopeless and dejected.

At Minot State, athletes were given the opportunity to opt out of their season, enabling them to remain on the team and maintain their scholarship without practicing or meeting with their team until the next season of competition. Essentially, the option is like a gap year for sports. This allows fall student-athletes to use the time they would have spent at practice on other opportunities.

The exact number of student-athletes that have opted-out is very small, because most would rather practice or participate in team activities than not. If a student-athlete chooses not to opt out, they continue to participate in their sport as usual. The reason for this option is because some student-athletes don’t want to risk testing positive for the coronavirus.

Senior and football defensive back for Minot State University, Ivan Avalos is one student who chose to opt out of his season. The Florida native explained that the coronavirus has troubled his family enough after two of his relatives tested positive. Taking it upon himself to use his extra time wisely, Avalos began to work in an effort to help his family financially.

When asked how it has impacted his life directly, he stated, “I’ve been out here all summer. Life isn’t the same but I’m making the best of it.”

Avalos has been unable to return home because conditions seem bleak, he said he will return for the 2021 fall season.

Senior cross country and track & field runner Nicholas Merillana decided not to opt out of his season. The 22-year-old has grown fond of his teammates and explained that they get him through a lot and that running would not be the same without them.

“I thrive off routine. Without practice every day at 4:30 a.m., my days would have no structure,” said Merillana.

Having a routine is important to the lives of many; taking it away could cause unnecessary confusion or stress during an already difficult time. Merillana intends to continue to practice alongside his teammates and better himself for the next season.

The fate of the 2021 athletic season has yet to be announced. As more information develops, the NSIC and North Dakota University System will re-evaluate the decision to return to campus and practice in-person or to continue as is.

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