MARCY — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty in the world of sports, most recently, casting a lot of unknowns in the world of college basketball at all levels.
Locally, the SUNY Poly women’s basketball team recently found out from their conference, the North Atlantic Conference, announced that its Presidents’ Council would not make a decision on the upcoming winter sports season until January.
“It’s been frustrating to say the least,” SUNY Poly women’s basketball coach and Camden High School graduate Jessica Skelton said. “These kids need answers. Most of my kids’ classes are online. Some have decided to save money and stay home until we are able to play. They want to know if they need to come to campus or stay home next semester.”
Skelton, who will be entering her 18th season with the Wildcats, said the upperclassmen of the team have some tough decisions ahead of them.
“Some of them (student-athletes) only need one or two semesters to graduate,” Skelton said. “Do they want to stretch out their academics to get their basketball career in or just finish and graduate? These decisions are based on if we play or not. There are just still a lot of unknowns.”
Skelton says that through it all, the team has been doing a great job of staying in basketball shape throughout the whole pandemic.
“The kids that are local and on campus have been great,” Skelton said. “We have some great leaders that have been able to keep the team together with workouts and team activities.”
Coach Skelton said that she has seven new players coming in this year and that the returners have really stepped up.
“(The returners) have made them feel welcomed without having a normal season,” Skelton said.
Skelton said that this preseason has been the most “frustrating preseason.”
“There are a lot of hurdles to overcome,” Skelton said. “It’s just not about basketball either. The online classes are challenging. Freshmen coming in for their first college experience need in-person classes. Keeping these kids in school is what I’m focused on.”
Skelton said that through the whole thing, she’s been telling the team to stick together.
“The experience can tear apart a program,” Skelton said. “We need to stay together and grow as a team from it. This can make us stronger if we continue to work through it as a team.”