Football season postponement impacts many


Zoey Schentzel, Reporter

The day the NCAA canceled the fall football season was the same day four South Dakota State University teams lost their season. 

In August, the NCAA announced that the fall football season was postponed until the spring. Three other teams that share the spotlight at the football games lost their stage, too. 

The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band (the Pride), the cheer team and the dance team all play an important role in games. Each of the three groups are all still practicing, but when formal performance will resume is uncertain. 

“It’s all looking a bit scary right now,” Makayla Swancutt, a senior and dance captain at SDSU, said. “As of right now, we don’t know what is happening. It’s all kind of a day by day struggle.” 

The Pride has some late September dates scheduled, but the cheer and dance teams are essentially on hold. Here is a look at the situation for both the cheer and dance teams. 

South Dakota State University Dance Team 

The SDSU Dance Team doesn’t know exactly what football games will look like. Everything is determined by the NCAA and the SDSU Athletic Department, and the information is passed on to the dance team from there. 

“If football games were to be held here in person, there is a possibility they (the athletic department) might ask us to be dancing,” said Swancutt. “Whether it be sidelines or a performance during a media time out. Although we don’t really know if the football games will be happening here due to weather or if they are all going to be away games.”

Swancutt added there are many unknowns and it’s difficult to know if the team will dance or not.

We don’t know if they will allow fans,” she said. “We don’t know if they will even allow dance or cheer spirit squads just because that’s additional people involved. It’s all up in the air. We probably won’t know until the-week-of at this rate.” 

The uncertainty is frustrating and disappointing to many of the dancers, especially the seniors who may not have the opportunity to dance at another football game. 

The team is also disappointed that Hobo Week will not look the same as in the past. The dance team performed at One Day for STATE via webcam and will also dance at some upcoming Pride performances. 

The team continues to practice three times a week for three hours in Frost Arena, with dancers wearing face masks and social distancing when possible. It’s important for the dance team to continue with practices even if football games look different because they are also a competition team with their eyes on a national title. 

“Not only do we do sidelines at all basketball and football games and appearances, but we also compete nationally,” Swancutt said. “We have several area competitions. We compete at camp and go to nationals every year in March in Dayton, Florida.” 

The national competition this past March was canceled, so this year’s team is hoping they can compete this spring. 

“It would be a bigger disappointment this year if nationals got canceled again, even over basketball season,” Swancutt said. “We all love basketball season, but for us, that competition season is where most of our sweat and tears get put into.”

The team has focused on seeing the good even in this unprecedented season. This year’s dance team has had more time to focus on technique and getting ready for competition and less pressure to learn routines quickly. 

“It takes us back to [this is dance and this is why I love dance], it’s not all about learning cheers so we can perform them at the football game,” Swancutt said. “It’s rooted us back to the basics and fun in it without a lot of the other responsibilities that go along.” 

South Dakota State University Cheerleading Squad 

Like the dance team, the SDSU Cheerleading Squad is also unsure if they will be performing at this year’s football games. The squad is notified by the school or the Hobo Day Committee when they are wanted and needed at an event. 

The cheer squad also performed for the first time at One Day for STATE via webcam. They practice every week, but due to regulations with COVID-19, the cheer squad is not able to do stunts. 

“At this point, we are only allowed to work on cheers and the fight song and we aren’t able to progress in our stunts,” Hanna Siemonsma, a junior at SDSU and cheer captain, said. “So, it’s a lot different then what we are used to.” 

The cheer team is unsure if they will be performing at football games in the spring but are assuming they will cheer for basketball games. The squad are still preparing for the spring football season with the hope they can cheer on the sidelines. 

“We are preparing for both the best and the worst,” Ally Zerfas, a junior on the cheer squad, said. 

Typically, the team’s fall is packed with cheer activities. One positive this year is there is more time for school and academics, which is especially helpful for the freshmen who are adjusting to college along with cheer. This year’s roster includes 12 freshmen and seven returners. 

The year has been different. It has presented each of these teams with challenges and disappointment, but many have found silver linings. But, the cancellation of the fall football season continues to sting. 

“Football is definitely where the school and the community come together for Hobo Day,” said Zerfas. “The entire Brookings community is there, almost every SDSU student is there and every SDSU athlete is there. Everyone comes together and it is so fun.” 

According to Jason Hove, assistant sports information director, everything is still in a “holding pattern” in terms of when, or if, sports will resume, and discussions are still being held regarding it.

“There are decisions being made at conference level in the next couple of weeks as to scheduling,” Hove said. “Football is targeting a February start date and basketball is still targeting a late November start date. That is a subject of approval to the conferences.”