After a Year-long hiatus during the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19, the Lewis & Clark Men’s Basketball team will once again be competing this winter. Last year, in order to ensure the safety of the student athletes and coaching staff, LC was the only school in the Northwest Conference (NWC) to completely opt out of the season. Today, Nov. 12, 2021, the 2021-22 season will officially debut for the Pios when they face West Coast Baptist College. Their season will stretch from now until the NWC Tournament, which begins on Feb. 24, 2022.
With the pandemic still at large, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Tim McCory expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to compete this year and acknowledged the impact of losing a season on the team.
“I would say having our season cancelled last year, there’s just so much gratitude and appreciation for all of the little things: practices, games, the interactions we have with each other,” McCory said. “I think I can speak for my team in that we are all really grateful.”
According to McCory, the lack of game-time experience over the course of two years is a hard obstacle to overcome. However, it has given the players time to work on themselves and focus on building a foundation with one another.
“The challenge is just game experience. Playing two games in two years there’s certain aspects that we learn, and certain situations that you go through, just by playing another opponent,” McCory said.
Point Guard Ryan Cibull ’22, one of four seniors on the team, acknowledged the hardships, as well as the advantages, in a majority of the team having not yet partaken in a collegiate season.
“Since we have not competed in two years, there are many new faces on the team, and many inexperienced players,’’ Cibull said. “This is exciting because it gives everyone an opportunity to fight for playing time, which has led to each player pushing each other to get the most out of practice each day.”
More than ever, COVID-19 has continuously reminded student athletes that their time on the field or court can go by in a flash. Coaches and players have since prioritized enjoying every moment the sport provides.
“For our sophomores, this will be their first competition they’ve had, and first games they’ve had; (my hope is that they) just really enjoy it,” McCory said. “Forward that to some of our seniors, I bet that they can’t believe that they are (now) in their fourth year at Lewis & Clark.”
Furthermore, among the Men’s Basketball team and all sports within LC’s athletic program, COVID-19 has become the ultimate test to controlling only what one is capable of managing.
“When COVID hit, we controlled what we could control, and that was how each of us could individually get better,” Cibull said. “Once practices started, we aimed to have a high level of effort and attention to detail in every practice, and have the same approach to life off the court in terms of the classroom, weightroom, and our recovery/nutrition.”
For every team, as Cibull noted, the end goal is a championship. Despite being stripped of a season, the team has worked tirelessly for the past two years to prepare for the road ahead and try to attain their goal of a NWC championship. The Pios will continue this six-game home stretch beginning with University of St. Thomas on Nov. 17, 2021.