Atlantic Coast and Big Ten Conference Allowing A Fall Sports Season


A soccer ball on an artificial turf soccer field. Photo Courtesy of Luca Marinelli, December 12, 2020.

Luca Marinelli and Nathan Wolfe

     As almost every league around the United States  has shut down due to Covid-19, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Big Ten Conference have continued their seasons not only for all fall sports.  These are some of the top conferences with some of the most competition.  People from all over the United States follow these leagues because of the excitement and level of play in Division I.

     University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill is one of the top teams in this conference. They have won the NCAA tournament six times, which is the third most of any team in history.  UNC also has 18 ACC titles and  32 ACC regular season titles.

     UNC Tar Heels starting goalkeeper Alec Smir says, “I think overall it was a very positive semester, we grew a lot as a team and things were really starting to click for us. It’s tough to go out the way we did  but as a team we definitely have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to going into the spring season.” UNC had a tough 1-0 loss in the quarterfinals against the University of Notre Dame in overtime on a free kick outside the box.

     Although Covid-19 affected their season, many adjustments were made in order to play. Smir explains that the “major thing was just being flexible to whatever came our way.  There were many new protocols that had to be followed, but as a whole we did well to keep our bubble and have a season.”  Many conferences cancelled the season due to the pandemic, but Smir and the Tar Heels were very fortunate to have a season.  Many fall sports seasons have been postponed to the springtime in order to give athletes the playing time they deserve.

     Smir states, “I will be playing again in the spring.  Due to Covid-19 we will have another season in the spring so it is exciting that it is not over and that we will be back soon!” The Tarheels will be working hard during this off season in order to bounce back from an unlucky tournament loss  after a great regular season; and have hopes of  bringing home another division title to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

     A junior on the soccer and track team, Basit Iddriss enjoys watching the ACC soccer league. Iddriss says, “I thought the season was very interesting this year. I loved to see how the players adapted to the new restrictions, and how they overcome these obstacles to perform to their best best ability on the field.” The season looked unusual for college athletes, with many new rules to follow like social distancing and masks on the bench.

     Like many others, Idriss says, “This is by far my favorite league because of the competition.  Any team in the conference can win any game.  No win is ever guaranteed, I like the unpredictable nature of the ACC.”  Throughout the season, there were many upsets, especially in the championship game.  The Clemson Tigers came and beat the number one seed Pittsburgh Panthers.

     Since freshman year, Idriss has followed the ACC, saying, “My favorite team is the Clemson Tigers. I really enjoy the drive and determination they play with anytime they take the field.” This is incomparable as they are ranked number one in all of college NCAA Division 1 schools by the United Soccer Coaches.

     As a star receiver on the Iowa Hawkeyes football team,  Nico Ragaini is having a great season which is shortly coming to an end. “I just really wanted to play so I was happy the season was put back on after being cancelled.” Ragaini says, “We had to really stay in a bubble and limit the people we saw throughout the whole season.” As for many other athletes doing this, he describes the challenges they faced but said it was definitely worth it.

     After the season he will prepare to be the best he can be for the Hawkeyes and give everything he’s got.  He will spend most of his time training on the field and in the weightroom to lead Iowa to a successful season next year as they will not be playing in the springtime.  He says that he is very fortunate that he was able to have an actual season as part of one of few conferences to allow it.