Correction: 1888 was the last time DePauw football didn’t take the field.
Typically, the football team would spend the second week of October practicing and preparing for their annual matchup against Hiram College. But like many traditions halted by the pandemic, all of DePauw’s athletic teams’ seasons have been suspended.
This is the first year since 1888 that the team won’t have a season, according to Bill Wagner. DePauw’s football team played through both world wars and the 1918 Spanish flu.
Even though DePauw welcomed back first-years and sophomores for the fall semester, teams have been limited when organizing practices. Starting last week, football players on-campus were allowed to start practicing.
Team practices look a lot different than they did a year ago. Players change six feet apart in the bleachers, not in the locker room. Everyone packs their own water bottle to practice, no more team bottles handed out by managers.
Sophomore quarterback Wallace Reine said, “we are practicing in individual position groups, and we are spread out all across the field.”
He also noted that practice times have almost been cut in half to minimize time spent together on the field.
However, students off campus, the majority of which are upperclassmen, will not be practicing with the teams in person.
“It’s been hard not being on campus and seeing everyone every day and not being able to practice,” junior starting running back Noah Jones said.
Learning remotely in Brownsburg, Ind., Jones is unable to attend the practices in Greencastle. Instead, Jones and many other upperclassmen depend on Zoom to meet with their position groups and the full team.
“We have had a ton of Zoom meetings, almost more than I can count,” Jones said. “It’s not the same as being on campus, but at least it is something that has been able to keep us connected and keep our brains on football.”
The players off-campus for the semester are not the only ones who are experiencing an unusual season. The underclassmen who are practicing, feel the absence of their off-campus teammates.
In a normal season, the underclassmen learn plays by watching the upperclassmen.
“It is weird not being able to high-five my teammates, but it is what we have to do,” Reine said. “Maybe the weirdest thing is wearing a mask underneath my helmet.”
Many seniors are holding out hope that they will get to finish their college career with one last season of football, even if it is drastically different. Senior quarterback and team captain Chase Andries is remaining optimistic for the potential of a spring season.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of good news, with the high school and college teams that are playing now,” Andries said. “And having such good results with minimum cases, it’s a good sign for DePauw football to play against other teams in the spring.”
“It will look a lot different, and the teams we play will be different too,” Andries said.
Head coach Brett Dietz is confident in this team and their ability to overcome this situation.
“Overcoming adversity is something we talk about in our football program whether in a football game or in life,” Dietz said. “This Covid situation is giving us plenty of practice. ‘Control what you can control’ is what we are focusing on right now.”