As tough as the cancellation of the remainder of spring sports was for Georgia Southern athletes, many of them were dealt yet another setback in their goals late last week.
Hot on the heels of the rapid shutdown of athletics came the word that Georgia Southern’s annual Athletes in Action mission trip to Nicaragua wouldn’t be able to go on as planned. The spring trip has become a staple for men and women across the entire GS Athletics spectrum and has also included coaching staffs and their families.
Rooted in faith, fellowship and service, the trip has become a great opportunity for Eagle student athletes to expand their worldview while contributing to countries in need. And while the trip will continue in the future, this year’s cancelation still serves to teach the participating Eagles about important life lessons during incredible circumstances.
“It’s a disappointment that we can’t go forward with our trip, but that doesn’t take away from our mission or our purpose,” Former GS football player and current Character Development coach Matt Wise said. “As much as it hurts to have to stay home this year, I know we’ll continue with this in the future.”
In a twist of fate, a lot of the support doled out by the organization is now being directed at its own members. All spring sport athletes for the Eagles saw their season end just weeks after beginning due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The abrupt halt of all athletics came on the heels of GS Baseball, Softball, Golf and Tennis enjoying great results. It also brought an end to the season of the men’s basketball team, which had notched two thrilling wins in the Sun Belt Conference tournament and needed just two more victories to reach the school’s first NCAA tournament since 1992.
Entire collegiate careers have been thrown into flux, but the Athletes in Action program is serving as an aide to the turmoil.
“I know it’s a really rough situation for everyone,” Wise said. “I hope that everyone can learn and grow from being put in a tough spot like this.
“Sooner or later, everyone’s playing career stops. It might get cut short by something unforeseen, and that makes it even more difficult. But we want everyone to aim for a purpose beyond sports. Our athletes represent their teams and Georgia Southern, but they also strive to represent themselves and their community as they move forward.”
All Georgia Southern athletic activities — including practices — have been suspended for the remainder of the academic year.
Wise said that he is keeping in touch with the school's Athletes in Action members and is there for continued support as Georgia Southern has also ruled out the resumption of in-person classes for the rest of the year, causing most student athletes to return to their hometowns to finish out the academic calendar.