McKenna Brodeur at least had a warning. Aric Belanger and Thomas Dupuy had unfortunately already experienced the announcement once before.

The University of Maine at Farmington’s McKenna Brodeur (18) moves the ball during a game last season in Farmington. UMF canceled fall sports on Monday. University of Maine at Farmington photo

But it didn’t make Monday’s news that the University of Maine at Farmington was canceling its fall sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic any easier.

“I knew it was going to happen and our coach told us (Sunday) night,” said Brodeur, a senior and captain on the women’s soccer team. “We’ve been talking all summer about it. Now it’s just finalized. It’s a punch to the gut a little bit, for me and my fellow seniors. Some of them don’t have the possibility of coming back, and my parents do support me if I want to take an extra semester and play next year, which is kind of what I want to do. I don’t want it to finish it like this, I’ve been playing since I was 3.”

The school announced Monday the canceling of fall sports, falling in line with the cancelation of fall sports in the North Atlantic Conference, which UMF plays in. The Beavers join a long list of Maine schools, including the University of Maine, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, Maine Maritime Academy, Husson University, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Unity College, Central Maine Community College and the University of Maine at Augusta, among others, that will not have a fall season. One school — the University of Maine at Machias — not only canceled fall sports but have suspended varsity athletics indefinitely due to budget issues.

“As you can imagine, we worked hard to land in a different place, but everyone is working hard with their unique context and variables to chart the best path we can, in consultation at many levels,” UMF athletic director Julie Davis said in an e-mail on Monday. “Respectfully, not everyone has/will land in quite the same place, but we all aim to have the best interest of our student-athletes, staff and communities in the forefront.”

Not every school is giving up on fall sports, as Colby College, Thomas College, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and St. Joseph’s College have all pledged to have some sort of competitive season.

For Belanger and Dupuy — both Maranacook graduates and members of the men’s soccer team — the announcement has almost become old hat. Dupuy is also a member of the school’s track and field team during the spring, while Belanger is a member of the UMF baseball team, and both had their season cut out from under them just as it was beginning. For Belanger, that announcement came right before the team’s spring trip to Florida.

“I guess the most frustrating process of this whole part and what the hardest things that I’ve encountered in my sports career, was (the baseball team) got the message three days before we were going to go to Florida that we weren’t going to have a season,” Belanger said. “There were some really upset upperclassmen, seniors. It was one of the worst feelings, because you couldn’t do anything about it.”

“It’s a little disappointing (to hear the fall season was canceled),” Dupuy said. “We kind of had hoped for a season as the summer kept going on, it was looking alright. They were looking at safety measures that we were going to do. We were pretty hopeful. As we started to see other schools shut down with fall sports like (University of Southern Maine) and (Maine Maritime Academy), it got kind of closer and closer to (finding) out when we were going to close as well.”

Brodeur, a Messalonskee graduate, had been updated throughout the summer via captains’ meetings with women’s soccer coach Molly Wilkie as to the possibility of a season happening. Monday’s announcement not only ended Brodeur’s season with soccer, it puts her winter sport — basketball — in a state of flux as well. The leading scorer for the Beavers last season, basketball practice would have started in October, and continue after Thanksgiving break.

“I kind of put it in the back of my head in July that it was going to happen,” Brodeur said. “I kind of planned for it to happen. It’s frustrating, and I totally wish we could play and do everything we can usually do. If it’s not safe, I’d rather live my life and not have any of my friends get sick. I obviously think it’s worth not doing it. Yeah, it sucks, but I just kind of go with the flow and do whatever.”

“We don’t know anything about winter sports (yet), and I think that’s what is hurting (basketball teammates) more,” Brodeur said.

Both soccer programs reached the NAC tournament last season, with the women’s soccer team — which won the NAC title in 2018 — making it to the conference championship game before falling 1-0 to Maine Maritime. The UMF field hockey team was looking to bounce back from a 5-14 season a year ago.

Brodeur and Dupuy — both seniors — have kept open the possibility of coming back to UMF next fall for one more season of soccer.

“I’ve thought about it,” Dupuy said. “I think if it came down to it, it’s a pretty big possibility that I could come back for another year. I think it comes down to what I want to do after college and if it’ll help in maybe getting a master’s, a second major or even getting a minor in something else, just so I’m not wasting money playing soccer.”

Belanger, an upcoming sophomore, still has plenty of eligibility left. He’s been able to keep a positive outlook on missing two sports seasons thanks to his sister, who works as a nurse.

“She says, ‘Aric, this is no joke,'” Belanger said. “Young kids, even my age, are dying. That puts it into a perspective for me like, ‘Wow, this is much bigger than a soccer game or a baseball game.’ As hard as it is on her, I can accept (not having a season) a lot easier knowing there’s frontline workers just giving up so much. There’s people suffering. Me suffering from not having a soccer season is minuscule to what some people are enduring. It’s nothing compared to what they’re putting up with.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: