As COVID-19 continues to show its presence in the sports world in both The University of Tampa community and worldwide, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) made the announcement that they would postpone the Fall 2020 season.
On Thursday, Oct. 1, the ACHA announced that the fall 2020 season would be postponed until January, despite the recent news of UT club sports returning this Fall.
“Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, the American Collegiate Hockey Association has decided to postpone all events in the fall 2020 season until January,” stated the ACHA website. This directly impacts the UT men’s hockey team, who has competed in the ACHA since.
The Spartans had a dominant 2020 Spring season before the pandemic was announced in March, as they were ranked first in their division, going 23-7. Having to wait until January was a devastating hit to the Spartans who have been preparing all off-season to return to play.
“It was upsetting to hear because the restrictions in Florida were looking good up until a month before school,” said UT Goalie Joe Bagi. “We thought we could have a first semester start until the second wave of COVID hung around and the season had to keep being pushed back.”
Bagi and the team are still positive and hopeful that the Spartans will be able to have a successful season after an offseason of uncertainty, where they were left in limbo of whether or not they would be playing.
The team has not been allowed to have organized practices yet, but players are doing everything they can to stay in shape, including participating in pickup games across the area. The Spartans hope that they can safely return to limited practice within the next month, according to assistant coach Lance Tackett.
The Spartans’ success of last season was cut short in the Spring right before they were set to compete at Nationals. This season, the Spartans are determined to get back to Nationals and compete for a championship.
“Last season was cut short two weeks before our trip to Nationals in Dallas so one of our goals for this season is to earn another Nationals and make a run for the championship,” said Bagi.
One thing that the Spartans are looking forward to building is chemistry amongst each other, since they haven’t been on the ice with each other collectively since the COVID shut down.
“There’s definitely going to be an adjustment and it’s gonna take a practice or two for us to get our legs back under us,” said defenseman Billy Cody. “I’m looking forward to getting back out there and seeing all the guys. Things have been anything but normal, so getting back on the ice with everyone will feel like things are, somewhat, back to normal.”
The ACHA has not released any more details regarding when exactly in January the season will start or a schedule for the teams.