The return of Nevada football and basketball brought a sense of optimism for the 2020-21 sports season, but while Division I athletics at the University of Nevada, Reno prepare for the new year, club sports face a murky future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stripped away much of the campus experience for students. In a regular academic year, club sports give students ways to get involved and represent the university through tournaments, championships and scheduled competitions. With COVID-19 putting extracurriculars and activities on hold, a club sports season remains in doubt for students on campus.
“It looks like there’s no hope for us this fall,” said Nolan Lanza, the Director of Clubs and Organizations for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. “It doesn’t look like anything will change from now until Thanksgiving. When campuses close, so do club sports in a lot of aspects.”
More than 36 affiliated club sports competed last season and have a rich history at the university, in addition to Division I athletics. The winter sports club won a national championship in March of 2018, while the men’s ski team took first place in Skier Cross at the national USCSA collegiate competition. The men’s rugby team also made it to nationals in 2017.
Club sports have garnered plenty of success at the university. It gives students a chance to compete, travel and participate in a sport they enjoy. Without a fall season, hundreds of club sports members are left wondering what their future holds.
“Fall is one of the most important times for club sports,” Lanza said. “A lot of our sports compete at this time. Those who compete in the spring take the time to practice during the fall. But right now, we’re not allowed to do so. It’s pretty sad to see that.”
In order for club sports to compete this season, it will need approval from the University of Nevada, Reno. Recent procedures put in place have impacted campus activity for the fall and spring semester.
All classes will be moved to online instruction following Nov. 30 once students return from Thanksgiving break. The E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center closed permanently for the remainder of the fall semester, and spring break was eliminated.
Student life on campus will quickly diminish by the spring semester. Club sports are ready to compete, but several obstacles are put in place from the university to protect students as COVID-19 cases rise.
“That’s the biggest thing in the way is approval from the university,” Lanza said. “We have club sports ready to play right now, but it’s not up to us. It’s up to the university and those above to make those decisions. With the new procedures in place, we understand what needs to happen in order to return.”
As a member of the club tennis team, Lanza knows first-hand how impactful club sports are for students on campus. The excitement of practice and competition brings teammates closer together and creates unbreakable friendships along the way.
Club sports have a substantial impact at the university and shouldn’t be forgotten. It offers unique opportunities to represent the university and play in a wide selection of sports, such as hockey and rugby.
“It’s like a home away from home for us,” Lanza said. “Being able to group with friends and meet new people playing the sport you enjoy is invaluable. It brings us together, not everyone is a Division I athlete so it gives students a chance to play.”
Despite the restrictions, Lanza said he is hopeful club sports can compete in the spring. All Nevada fall sports excluding football had their seasons postponed to the spring, which makes it a possibility that club sports could play as well.
“We’re still keeping hope for the spring,” Lanza said. “The university is taking those extra precautions to keep us more safe. I’m hoping they’ll be more lenient to allow practicing and a bit of competition for us in the spring.”
Regardless of what the future holds, each club sport at Nevada will continue to compete at a high level.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Isaiah__Burrows.