Drake’s football game against Stetson University on Saturday, Oct. 23 was canceled by the Pioneer Football League because of COVID-19 issues within the Tier 1 personnel which consists of players, coaches, managers and staff.
Senior defensive back Danny Morales said the team found out about the cancellation of the game on Thursday.
Kiernan Kohorst, senior defensive lineman, reiterated Morales and said the team knew “a couple of days” before the game “that our cases were rising to a point” where they knew they wouldn’t be “able to take the field”.
The game was declared a forfeit based on PFL policies.
“It was disappointing to lose that game after a long season of managing COVID and working to improve every week,” Kohorst said. “To lose a game that we were prepared for, and for some of the seniors to lose one of their last games of their career, is definitely disappointing.”
Morales had the same sentiment.
“I was disappointed that the game was cancelled because we have all worked so hard to have this season,” Morales said. “I would have loved to play, but the health of our team and the community is the primary importance.”
In the Oct. 29 COVID-19 Update, the university said that Drake Athletics are “adhering to Drake and athletic conference” COVID protocols and are also following the “NCAA Resocialization Health and Safety Guidelines”. The memo also said that more than ninety-two percent of student athletes and staff are vaccinated. It outlined that if a program made up of a minimum of 50 people have five percent or more be affected by COVID then the University or conference is allowed to stop activities and games, which is what happened for the Oct. 23 football game.
Both Morales and Kohorst said the team follows all of the COVID protocols directed by the NCAA, PFL and Drake which include “social distancing” and wearing “masks”.
Vaccine mandates have become a hotly debated topic not just in politics, but also in the sports world. Kyrie Irving a point guard for the Brooklyn Nets has become one of the most famous and recognizable athletes to have openly said they will not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Irving has said he refuses for personal reasons, but whatever his reasoning because of his decision the topic of mandates has become increasingly more prominent and has led to discussions on whether or not teams/leagues should be able to dictate what a player does.
Kohorst commented on vaccine mandates.
“I think the vaccine carries particular affiliations it wasn’t meant to have. It’s become political, personal, and controversial,” Kohorst said. “I have a particular opinion based on how the virus has affected people close to me. I believe the vaccine can be a symbol of unification rather than division. If all of us were to get the vaccine and take that important step to protecting the people around us, I think it would build an increased sense of community. It helps reinforce the message that we care for one another and want to protect each other the best way we can.
Drake has not made vaccines mandatory for student-athletes or even students.
“We try to respect every player’s personal decision,” Kohorst said. “A vast majority of the team is vaccinated, but we did have some breakthrough cases that affected us. Luckily the vaccine worked as advertised and limited any extreme symptoms or reactions to the virus, so players feel healthy as they return to the team.”
The Bulldogs next game will be against Marist College on Saturday Nov. 6 in Poughkeepsie, New York.
“We are preparing for Marist the same as every game week,” Morales said. “We are continuing to improve and are looking forward to being able to compete at a high level. I think the bye week was beneficial for the team to allow the team to rest and recover. It allowed us to recharge so that we will be able to have a good week of practice and be ready for the game this week.”