After the news broke Thursday that the MIAA was canceling fall sports competition, Hope football coach Peter Stuursma met with his team via zoom.
"If you really narrow it down I am just disappointed for them," Stuursma said. They want to play the game of football. To play at our level, NCAA division three, you have to really love the game because you are going to be a student-athlete, there are going to be no athletic scholarships so you have to really love the game. They love the game."
The MIAA was one if the final division three conferences trying to make competition happen this fall.
A major hurdle occurred when the NCAA recommended that athletes would need a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to each competition.
The money and resources needed to make that happen are tough for many division three schools although Stuursma said Hope was going to do it.
Now the Flying Dutchmen move on to what is next. Football teams are being allowed 114 days of practice for the school year.
"What are thoughts are right now is we are going to have an eight week fall camp season," Stuursma said. "What that would look like is meetings, installation, conditioning, practice, if we are permitted, an intrasquad scrimmage that we would try to finish with we want to make it a growth opportunity for our players."
If all goes well the fall will amount to what spring football looks like at the division three level.
"The premium is placed on us as coaches that sure their is going to be challenges to it," Stuursma added. "There is not a light at the end of the tunnel to play a game in the fall, but there could be in the spring and there very well could be in the spring and we are defending the MIAA championship and we have to continue to raise the bar of the expectations that we have as coaches, as players."
The league has said it will attempt to play games in the spring for fall sports.
Hope College is planning to have face-to-face learning this fall.
Stuursma just wants to give the students chances to grow in whatever format is permitted.
"The overall and overarching goal is that we want the young men that have committed to our program to graduate form this institution," Stuursma said. "To graduate with an awesome degree, awesome experiences and an awesome opportunity to go on to the next level and get a job and be a contributing member of society."
The Flying Dutchmen football players will return to campus on the same schedule as the other students and will have some time to acclimate before fall camp begins.