Kolpack: On Giving Hearts Day, some advice for the Kansas City soccer players
The unexpected will be the expected this year in the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference
Imagine the faces of the women’s soccer players from the University of Missouri-Kansas City when they step off the bus in Fargo. If any of the players were sleeping, the arctic temperatures will take care of any drowsiness. They could just as well be in Point Barrow, Alaska.
The Summit League opener with North Dakota State was originally scheduled in Kansas City, but was moved to NDSU because of weather. The irony is off the charts. It could very well be the first NCAA event of any kind moved 600 miles north because of weather to where the high temperature will be minus-9 degrees.
The reason, of course, is Kansas City’s forecast is also abysmal and the Kangaroos play outside. The Bison play in the Dacotah Field bubble.
“We’re very lucky we have the indoor facility we can utilize this time of year,” said NDSU head coach Mike Regan. “And we’re very fortunate UMKC wants to play the game just as much as we do and it worked out. We offered to flip flop and they wanted to come and do that.”
Get used to scenarios like this for spring athletics. The weather will eventually get better. Postponements and cancellations from the coronavirus pandemic in the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference may take awhile to go away.
“Every program has gone through the ups and downs, getting kids back and losing kids,” Regan said. “Our student-athletes have done a phenomenal job the last two, three months of doing the right things, making the right choices and keeping healthy. We’ve tested and we’re ready to play tomorrow night.”
The Bison will be looking to better a predicted seventh-place finish in the Summit preseason poll. It’s a young team, 18 of the 26 players are freshmen or sophomores, with only four seniors including midfielder Brookelyn Dew from Fargo Shanley
“We’re a very much different roster from 2019 and I think it’s important we just continue the process,” Regan said. “We’re a completely different roster from what we had two years ago and for us going into conference right away we need to be ready to perform.”
No fans will be allowed to watch them perform in the bubble this season because of a lack of space. That’s not the case with Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome for football, which is allowing 50% capacity.
The finish line for football is May 16 in Frisco, Texas. That much we know about the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Until that day, the unexpected will probably be the expected.
It already happened earlier this week when the Missouri Valley postponed the Western Illinois at South Dakota football game next Friday until April 17. That is the makeup date for all Valley teams and if the Bison don’t play a game that day, consider it an unlikely gift of a bye week.
So far, the NDSU basketball teams have escaped the postponement virus. If the Bison men and women are able to play a series against South Dakota State at home next weekend and at South Dakota the following weekend, mark the regular season as amazing. And lucky.
Football may be different. More players. More coaches and support staff. The FBS made it through despite obstacles on a weekly basis and I would expect the FCS will be able to do the same.
Getting to Frisco may be more of a survival thing than an on-field thing.
By the way, the high temperature in Point Barrow on Thursday is minus-26, but warms up to a balmy minus-15 on Friday. NDSU has six players from either Las Vegas, California or Oklahoma. They’ve been here long enough to acclimate.
The Kansas City players may wake up on Friday morning wondering where in the Arctic Circle they are. Thursday is Giving Hearts Day in our region and for that, let me, with years of freezing experience, give three pieces of advice to the Kansas City players:
Don’t talk about the cold. It makes you colder.
Turn it into a badge of honor. Take a cup of boiling water from the hotel (assuming it has a microwave), step outside for a brief moment and throw it in the air. With cell phone video, watch the water instantly evaporate into ice crystals and send it to your warm-weather friends. It never gets old. Ask your science professor if this qualifies for extra credit.
The indoor bubble is no warm oasis. Double the time for pregame warmups and for the bench players, don’t sit on the bench for an extended period of time wrapped in a blanket. Gotta keep moving.
“It will be colder than they’re used to but we train in it every day and it’s been good for us,” Regan said.