On Aug. 7, 2020, Drake University announced via email that the football team would not be competing in the Fall 2020 season, disappointing players, coaches and Drake fans alike.
“The logistical challenges with team travel, as well as properly adhering to campus, local or state requirements created an insurmountable hurdle for the Pioneer Football League this fall,” Drake Athletic Director Brian Harden said.
Hardin said he sends good thoughts toward all involved with the football program, including seniors and fifth-year seniors.
Chris Evans, an offensive tackle for the team, is one of those fifth-year seniors. He decided to return to Drake for a fifth year of football before learning how the pandemic would affect the 2020 season.
“Personally, I have responded by continuing to prepare as if I am going to come back,” Evans said. “Even though the season has been canceled, the preparation continues on.”
Evans said he’s unsure about playing in the spring season because he graduates in December and is still exploring his options. Whether he comes back in the spring or not, he wanted to thank the following for making his Drake experience so great: Brian Harden, Ryan Martin, Walker Howard, Coach Stepsis, Angie Dahl Miller, LT Poeppel and the entire coaching staff.
“Savor every moment that you get,” Evans said. “You never know when it will be the last.”
Evans emphasized that COVID has helped the team understand that things can be taken away without warning. Senior Alex Rodgers agreed.
“As expected, there was a lot of initial sadness and pain, especially for the seniors who would not be making a return to the game they’ve given so much to,” Rodgers said. “We’ve controlled what we can control, and we will move forward with a positive attitude because that is all you can really ask for.”
Rodgers said he does not expect a spring season due to the quick turnaround for a season in Fall 2021. However, the team is planning to start working back into practice on Aug. 31 if everything goes well.
Drake’s Head Football Coach, Todd Stepsis, is hoping for a spring season.
“The only thing that will be different is the weather,” Stepsis said. “It will be cold for pretty much the entire season if we play in March, but other than that, the preparation for our season won’t change.”
Stepsis said it was tough to find out about the season’s cancellation, and he felt for the group of players who were missing their last season of football.
“The only thing we can control is what we do next,” Stepsis said.
Stepsis, Evans and Rodgers all agreed that the team is trying to overcome this year’s challenges with relationships, teamwork, character and perseverance.
“Attitude is a choice, and our choice will show up in our actions,” Stepsis said. “We’ll choose to remain positive and believe that the best is always yet to come.”