The GLIAC announced on Wednesday, Nov. 11 that its affiliate universities can proceed with a winter and spring athletic schedule, meaning that Ferris’s Division II sports are set to return in 2021.
The announcement came after the GLIAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors met to discuss how winter and spring athletics would proceed. They agreed that men’s and women’s basketball would begin conference play Jan. 7 with the ability to individually schedule non-conference games as early as Jan. 1. Volleyball will begin Feb. 19 and men’s and women’s soccer is set to start March 19.
Women’s tennis will be played at the same time as men’s tennis in the spring, football teams can schedule up to five competitions, and spring athletics remain on as scheduled. However, everything is subject to change as more information becomes available.
Through everything, the council stated that they remained dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of all personnel involved in GLIAC athletics. By carefully monitoring COVID-19, the GLIAC COVID-19 Task Force established safe competition protocols to allow athletics to resume.
“Our administrators, coaches and the task force have been meeting weekly with the hope of getting our student-athletes back on the court or field next semester,” GLIAC Commissioner Kris Dunbar said. “Their commitment to this process is impressive, and the safety of the student-athletes, staff and our communities have been at the forefront of our decisions. I can’t understate how proud I am of how far we’ve come and what we’ve weathered.”
The men’s and women’s basketball schedules were released on Thursday, Nov. 12 via a YouTube stream by the GLIAC. Both teams will play a total of 18 conference games, facing the same opponent twice in a week. Specific dates, times, and information about spectators has yet to be released.
Both teams will begin their seasons against Ashland University on Jan. 7. The men’s team will play at home and the women’s team will play at Ashland.
The YouTube stream included an interview with Ferris men’s basketball head coach Andy Bronkema, who was optimistic about the coming season despite the difficulties everyone faces due to COVID-19.
“We’ve developed a good process bringing ideas to the table and getting input from everybody else and then going back to the drawing board to develop schedules,” Bronkema said. “The thing we prioritized and what we wanted to see happen was just to give the student athletes the best experience we could possibly give them.”
As expected, Ferris athletes were happy to finally know that they will have a season this year. Players like women’s soccer senior midfielder Kira Budzynski was skeptical her team would have a season this year but is “so excited” that they officially have a start date. She is especially grateful to get a season in her senior year at Ferris.
“As a senior, I’m just trying to cherish and enjoy every moment that we get to be together this year,” Budzynski said. “For the seniors, there are a lot of lasts – the last time to play together as a group, the last time to play for a GLIAC championship and to play soccer in general.
“I think that it will be really important for players to be disciplined over Christmas break to stay fit and get some soccer in whenever possible. As a team, we need to be ready to put a lot of work in when we get back from break to prepare for the season.”
Budzynski looks forward to getting back on the field, but perhaps what she missed the most was her teammates. She said the team has a “special connection” and she cherishes the relationships with her teammates above all else.
Like Budzynski, senior volleyball libero Nina Gorgijevska missed spending time with her teammates the most. Gorgijevska also looks forward to competing again and misses the challenge that volleyball brings. However, she understands that getting the Bulldogs back to the GLIAC tournament championship for the seventh straight season will not be easy.
“We’re already working hard, but the whole team has to buy into what the coaches are saying and planning,” Gorgijevska said. “It’s not only the physical part or skill part but also mental preparedness and the ability to carry on the legacy from previous years. The whole team has to be on the same page and understand what we’re fighting for. This is not just another volleyball team-this is Bulldog volleyball.”
Gorgijevska went on to explain that being a Bulldog volleyball player means working hard, cutting the complaints, and being a family. She hopes to show the young players on the team what Bulldog volleyball is all about when they take the court this year.
It has been a long time since Ferris has played sports, but that wait is almost over. Now, the athletes will look to buckle down and put together another successful year of Bulldog athletics.