As a gifted offensive lineman, Zach Suter got used to absorbing the hard knocks.
But the recent St. Joseph high school graduate from Metuchen was unprepared for the news that he and many other student-athletes entering or returning to the College of New Jersey recently learned.
Although students can attend college classes in person for the fall semester, they will not be allowed to participate in high-contact sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, says community missive school president Kathryn A. Foster, published Friday afternoon.
Foster’s missive detailed several restrictions, including the cancellation of “high density human and face-to-face human activity”.
Canceled college and intramural sports include football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, wrestling, and rugby, according to Foster’s missive.
Other NCAA Division III schools that canceled fall sports earlier this week include Bowdoin, Pratt Institute (N.Y.) and UMass-Boston. Morehouse College, a Division II school in Atlanta, also canceled its fall sports season.
A first-year student at TCNJ, Suter said he was “obviously disappointed” to lose the football season, but appreciates the university’s efforts to ensure the well-being of all students.
“I am thankful that they are watching over us because you never know what can happen,” said Suter. “This summer and my forties were spent training, improving and staying in shape. You have to take it with a grain of salt. They watch over our interest. “
TCNJ junior Dave Jachera learned of the cancellation by email Friday morning.
“I still don’t know how to feel about it,” said Jachera, a Pequannock marketing major who came out of a torn right ACL suffered during a game last November.
“I can’t collect my thoughts. I haven’t processed them yet. Obviously, I am disappointed. … You could see that the intensity of the weight room was different (before the campus closed around school break). Our attitudes were different towards the season. We were all very excited. ”
Malin Jasinski, a recent graduate of Seneca High School, had used the impending football season as a distraction to lose his final year with the baseball program.
“Spring was the time to prepare,” said the three-sports star about his half-full glass approach. “The past two months have been weight lifting and conditioning, and mentally with the game book, talking to coaches every week, Zoom meetings, reviewing games, (coaches) keeping us posted on the season. Now that it’s gone, it rejects me. I was preparing for this moment and now he’s gone. ”
Jasinski is still attached to TCNJ, but it would be a hard pill to swallow if it were the only New Jersey Sports Conference program to cancel his campaign.
“My hope is that (if) TCNJ and the board of directors do not see any member of the NJAC canceling, they will be able to cancel their final statement,” he said.
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TCNJ also offers university cross country and tennis in the fall. Other sports, such as swimming and diving, athletics, baseball and women’s lacrosse, were not specifically mentioned.
All coaches and coaches will be permitted to organize training sessions and other individual fitness activities.
“We know how important activities beyond the classroom are to the educational experience of the TCNJ and how critical a particular activity can be to student retention and success,” Foster wrote in his missive. .
“Student activities enliven the campus and bring great joy to community members and visitors. Unfortunately, but necessarily, and in accordance with our justification and our actions in education, boarding school and other operations, I decided that for health and safety reasons, we restrict the menu of student activities by no one this fall with a low human density and little personal contact or outreach activities only. ”
The college’s fall schedule was also affected. Students will return to campus for in-person classes until Thanksgiving, after which TCNJ will move on to online education.
Foster wrote that she understood how unfortunate and deeply disappointing the news on Friday was for the athletes, coaches and supporters who were looking forward to a fall season.
“I look forward to it,” she wrote. “However, the science on COVID-19 finds that activities with high contact or proximity in person have the greatest probability of wide and rapid spread of the virus, a circumstance which at TCNJ could mean the closure of the campus.
“We are looking to resume these activities as soon as it is safe to do so. If all goes well in the fall, we may be able to allow some performance and preparation for winter sports. “
Zach Miller contributed to this report.