New start, same dreams

Men’s soccer seniors excited to play shortened season, gain extra eligibility

Daniel Newman and Sabrina Jiles

In a typical year, fall sports at Seattle Pacific University would be one month into their seasons. Athletes would be beginning their conference seasons with alumni, students and parents in the stands—but not this year.

A man prepares to kick a soccer ball
Nik Reierson is supposed to graduate this year but has lost at a minimum his fall season.  (Alison Meharg)

With the outbreak of COVID-19 affecting the entire world and placing a halt on the past spring sports season, the fall season has now been affected as well. On July 17, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference announced a suspension of athletic competition until November 30.

This announcement results in a change of how these programs are handled for the fall. For men’s soccer seniors Nik Reierson and Alex Mejia, this time is a bit strange.

“Typically we’d be here August 14th, but we moved in when everyone else did,” Reierson said in a zoom call. “We would have been training, no one else is on campus and we have no classes or anything, but now we have class and then we start practice.”

The postponement of this season was upsetting to Mejia, even though he knew it was coming.

“I was at the field actually training, and I just got on the zoom call, and as soon as I heard (head coach) Mark say ‘We’re not going to play this fall,’ I just hung up,” Mejia said in a zoom call.

With games being postponed until at least November 30, seniors have to decide how this will affect them in the future. The NCAA recently announced that seniors who would normally have a fall season can redshirt and come back next year, even if they play in the spring.

“I know a lot of the senior guys are thinking about coming back for their fifth year as well in the fall. Though it’s disheartening that our season was postponed or cancelled or whatever’s gonna happen, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with a potential redshirt season,” Reierson said. This option is something that both Reierson and Mejia are strongly considering using.

Not only has Mejia had to reconsider whether he’s going to return to SPU in the fall, he’s had to shift the concentration of his major. Mejia wanted to do international business, but one of the requirements is to go on a study abroad trip, which is difficult to do at these times, and even if it was possible, Mejia would be in the middle of his soccer season when the trip was happening.

Two players fight to gain control of a soccer ball
Alex Mejia, a senior Business Administration student and soccer player at SPU, is trying to decide if he’ll return for a fifth year given the loss of the fall season due to COVID-19. (Marissa Lordahl)

“The plan would have been to play the fall season like right now… then leave for study abroad in January,” Mejia said.

Now, Mejia is majoring in business administration with concentrations in Finance and Economics.

Even coming back to practice will look different this year for the team, as they can only be in groups of five, and must wear masks while practicing. Though it may be different, Reierson and Mejia are just excited to get back on the field with everyone again.

“I think everyone’s super pumped, just ‘cause it’s been so long,” Reierson said. “Having a little bit of coaches’ instruction is always nice as well,”

When the Falcons take the field for a game again, it will likely be close to a year since the last time that they have done so. When they do, Mejia is hoping to score lots of goals and help the Falcons to a conference championship, something the Falcons haven’t achieved in his time here.
This team and this program means a lot to Mejia, and he is grateful for the opportunities that it has given him.

“SPU has really changed my life. The opportunity they’ve given me to come play, the scholarships, all that, it’s made a huge difference in how the rest of my life will be, and I’m thankful for all of that,” Mejia said.