More than the college football world was impacted on August 11 when the Pac-12 Conference voted unanimously to postpone fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pac-12 soccer teams also felt the summertime sadness too.
According to Oregon State womens soccer coach Matt Kagan, it was a sad day, when he learned his team would not be taking the pitch this fall. Since learning the fate of Oregon States season, Kagan, a veteran of nine NCAA Tournament teams, has focused on making the rest of 2020 a positive for the Beavers.
Now, were just trying to turn a negative into a positive, Kagan told Ron Callan on the latest Talkin Beavers podcast. I told our team thats our role as human beings on this team is to turn a negative into a positive. So, were training, and our training is going well, its distanced training. Its no contact right now.
He continued, I think the thing Im so proud about with our team is that theyre mature, theyve adapted... thats one of the reasons they had a successful season last year. I think another reason why were going to continue to be successful, I think our kids are going to go whenever its that time.
After going 2-17 in 2018, Kagan led Oregon State to an 11-6-2 record and a win over the rival Ducks in his first season. The Beavs looked to build upon their successful 2019 campaign this season. That is, before fall play was suspended.
Now, Oregon State soccer is looking to make an impact in other ways off-the-pitch.
In the wake of the protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Kagan said he and his team have made it a priority to have more eye-opening conversations.
Its taught me that I need to be a better listener as a coach, Kagan said. I think our staff would echo that. One of the things its taught me is to have open dialogue with our students and make sure theyre educated, and I need to educate myself more about these issues.
Dozens of athletes from several Oregon State sports teams helped form the Dam Change initiative to educate, empower and enhance the experiences of Oregon State Black student-athletes and staff.
Amongst those leading the efforts include womens soccer defender Maddy Ellsworth, who shared her experiences with systemic racism on the Talkin Beavers podcast in July. Ellsworth and midfielder Skylar Herrera have been at the forefront of making sure Black Lives Matter conversations continue with the soccer season halted.
We just met with the two of them the other day to talk about now that we dont have our season, how can we still honor the Black Lives Matter movement and what they wanted it to look like, and we want them to have a voice in it and we want them to be at the forefront of it, Kagan said. In our team, were thinking about being creative and doing different things so we can make sure that its not just an issue thats passed, but were keeping it present.
Were having awesome conversations with our team.
A spring concept is not off the board for Pac-12 sports, meaning the 2020-21 Oregon State womens soccer season could still happen. Kagan views spring competition as eminently possible.
I know well be ready when the time comes, Kagan said. Well model our training around what they give us. So, it remains to be seen, but were excited for the prospect of playing this spring."
To hear more from Coach Kagan on his expectations for Oregon State when it takes the field, listen to the full Talkin Beavers podcast below.