ASU cross country and volleyball await spring season as football, basketball resume

Athletes shared how they feel about other sports returning to play while they continue to prepare for 2021

The Pac-12 announced Sept. 24 it would resume football, basketball and all other winter sports competitions starting in November. 

However, the conference postponed all other fall sports until January 2021. Athletes involved with fall sports like volleyball and cross country are somewhat frustrated by the decision.

“We were all a little disappointed,” sophomore cross country runner Vincent Mauri said. “There’s nothing we can really do about it. A lot of us saw it coming."

Mauri said he and his teammates were confused over the decision because "cross country is a sport where we could’ve made it work over other sports" regarding the athletes' ability to social distance while competing.

He added wearing a mask to practice has been the only notable change for cross country runners during the fall.

This time last year, Mauri and the men's and women's cross country teams were in the middle of its season preparing for the Arturo Barrios Invitational at Texas A&M.

With almost four extra months to prepare for a return next year, Mauri says the “fire” is burning more than ever. 

“It hasn’t changed our work ethic,” Mauri said. “If anything, it has made it stronger.”

While the Pac-12 brought back football and basketball for the fall, athletes not taking part in competitions this season don’t see the conference prioritizing some sports over others in any way.

“I think the Pac-12 is doing the best they can just making sure we’re all safe and healthy,” ASU freshman volleyball middle blocker Claudia Stahlke said. “I think they understand that this will be best for us and our sport.” 

Stahlke, along with the ASU volleyball team, was dealt the same fate as the cross country teams as they too eye a return sometime next year. The Sun Devils finished 17-14 in 2019 and were looking forward to competing once again this fall before the cancellation.

“We can utilize this time to prepare and grow for the season,” Stahlke said. “It will help us bond more as a team.” 

Stahlke needed to make adjustments to her life outside of the gym with online classes, a similar predicament that students worldwide find themselves in. Stahlke is taking advantage of the extra downtime to get ahead of classwork.

“We understand the amount of work we have to do in college as a student-athlete,” Stahlke said. “It allows us to be adaptive to understanding what we are expecting when we will be in season this spring.”

Outside hitter Andrea Mitrovic, one of three seniors on the roster, feels the same way as her teammate does.

“When I first heard that we might have a fall season I was super excited,” Mitrovic said. “But not having a season gives us more time to prepare. Honestly, I kind of liked that it got postponed.”

ASU volleyball, like cross country, continues to practice during their time off. While an exact return date has not been confirmed, the Sun Devils still aren’t letting their foot off the gas in their preparation.

“A lot of girls are going in for extra reps,” Mitrovic said. “Each day people are going in to get better because we have the time.”

In the meantime, ASU football is set to begin its conference-only season on Nov. 7 against USC. The Pac-12 has yet to release details regarding the basketball season schedule, which will start on Nov. 25.


Reach the reporter at cabradl4@asu.edu and follow @colebradley01 on Twitter. 

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