It’s not very often a team’s season ends with under 10 games played, but that’s exactly what happened to the Rainy River Community College baseball team.
The Voyageurs’ 2020 season came to an end when the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) announced all spring sport seasons were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak March 16.
The Voyageurs had only eight games under their belt (a record of 2-6) of their scheduled 47 and had just gotten back from a trip to Tucson, Ariz. when the announcement came down.
Head coach Josh Koenig said deep down he had a feeling this was going to happen once the major sport leagues started suspending their own seasons.
“I knew it was going to eventually go that way,” he said. “I did like how the NJCAA took their time and had patience with it, which I think a lot of other organizations didn’t have. They waited until they really had no other choice but to cancel.”
Koenig said his players were shocked by the announcement, but he had always told his players to expect anything.
“It was a big shock to all of us,” he said. “I’ve always told them you can never take putting on the uniform for granted because you never know when it’ll be your last time. I don’t think the sophomores realized that Thursday’s game could have been their last time putting on the Voyageur uniform.”
With the season being cut short, the NJCAA is allowing the players an extra year of eligibility, but Koenig said this will raise a few challenges come next spring.
“A lot of our sophomores have done very well in school, so academically they will be in their junior year, but they’ll still be sophomores athletically so they may wish to move on,” he said. “It’s the same thing with our freshman class because they have an extra year as well. We could have third-year sophomores, two-year freshmen and incoming freshmen as well. Unfortunately that could cause a backlog of players.”
Koenig went on to say ultimately the decision of whether or not to stay at RRCC falls to the players.
“Some players are going to have to make hard decisions on whether or not to continue their academic career elsewhere and maybe not get another opportunity to play baseball,” he said. “It’s a numbers game. Each roster can only carry so many players, so it’s going to be interesting.”