In a few months, Alan Kim, Abigail Santana and a number of other high school soccer players in the area hope to begin a new journey at the NCAA Division I level.
It sounds like a comforting thought for college signees in these uncertain times, but not enough to curb the disappointment of March 16. It was that day two weeks ago when the IHSAA and IGHSAU mandated a four-week suspension of Iowa high school sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That meant promising seasons for Kim’s Cedar Rapids Kennedy Cougars, Santana’s Linn-Mar Lions and others were on hold. The college season is supposed to start in August for Kim at Marquette and Santana at Creighton, but they want another shot at state tournament glory with their high school teammates and friends in June.
“We were really coming into the season with high standards, high expectations,” Santana said. “Our team would have been so strong.”
Linn-Mar was 18-2 last spring and reached the Class 3A state quarterfinals for the second straight year with just two seniors in the starting 11. Santana, a first-team all-state forward, totaled 14 goals and 12 assists.
Now, instead of practicing with her team, she’s trying to stay in shape on her own with home workouts.
“I give myself a routine,” Santana said. “I try to do any kind of workout I can, try to stay on the ball as much as I can. There are a few fields around the area that I could go to and train, work on individual stuff. I just try to keep everything at as high a standard as I would if we were to have a season.”
Kim has a similar story. He had 12 goals and six assists as a Class 3A first-team all-state forward for last year’s Kennedy team that went 11-4-1 and advanced to the state quarterfinals with only two seniors starting.
As a team co-captain, he’s trying to stay positive while remaining realistic.
“I’m glad that they’re taking the initiative to suspend it even if they believe that there’s not a good chance we’re going to play this year,” Kim said. “I think it was a good move on their part. Anything really could happen. I’m just glad that they’re taking into account the athletes, the seniors that could miss out on our last season.”
The earliest date sports could resume is April 13, but that remains uncertain. In the meantime, Kim keeps himself busy at home with pushups, situps and ball work.
“If I’m just sitting around, it always comes back to me that I could be playing right now,” Kim said. “It’s not fun to think about.”
He was even trying the Instagram trend of juggling toilet paper until his dad kindly reminded him that’s a coveted item at the moment.
Those momentary bits of joy can’t compare to scoring a big goal and celebrating with teammates. When the next opportunity for the latter comes is anybody’s guess.
“Obviously that’s going to take a toll on us,” Kim said.
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