Opinion: UMKC Athletics cancel three sports

Brandon Clark

The UMKC Athletic Department has made the decision to suspend its golf, cross-country and track and field programs for the next eight months. The announcement came on Oct. 22 along with the news that the track and field coaches would lose their jobs immediately. This is a huge disappointment to me as an athlete that is a part of both the cross-country and track and field teams.

As student athletes, our scholarships will still be honored for the rest of the academic year. Athletes will also have the option to transfer if they choose. 

The only other information we’ve been given so far is that we will no longer be a team for the next eight months and our coaches are gone. 

In the midst of coronavirus, this is something we were all hoping would not happen to us. It is not uncommon for programs to get cut or suspended when schools’ funds are low, but it hurts when it happens to you directly. 

A message was sent out to all of us athletes on the morning of Oct. 22 saying we were to report to a Zoom meeting at 9:30 a.m., where Coach Shirley broke the news to us.

The coaches were visibly upset, as were the athletes. A lot of questions followed, but not many answers were able to be given.

Seeing your coaches upset is hard. Listening to them tell you they can no longer be your coach is hard. Comprehending all of this has been hard. 

Our coaches want nothing more than to watch us succeed, and they work so hard to try and make that come to life. To hear that they lost their jobs was heartbreaking. 

As an athlete who is part of both teams, I am infuriated. Track and field has always been, and always will be, criminally underrated and undervalued. Not only by the general population, but at the university level as well. 

Track and field is always one of the first athletic programs to be considered cuts. This is unfortunate, because track athletes are some of the hardest working athletes in sports as a whole, and the sport brings diversity. 

Every day all year, I have woken up at 5:30-6 a.m., whether it be for summer training on my own or in-season training with the team and our coach. My teammates and I have worked so incredibly hard to get into the best possible shape with the tiny hope of maybe getting to compete in a season this year. This has all been taken away from us now. 

As a distance runner, however, I will not simply stop running. I will continue as I would on any normal day with the team, trying to better myself. I know my teammates will be doing the same. 

As a team, we have been training this cross-country season for a 5K time trial since our season was canceled. We still plan on running this, now just on our own. 

We’ll now be running for a little more than just a good time mark, too. I know I’ll be running for Coach Guemmer and Coach Shirley, because they deserve better and they deserve the opportunity to still be coaching us right now. 

I am unsure of my future at UMKC now. If that is taken away next year because the program gets cut, I will come to an important crossroads. 

I have already transferred once, and as an athlete that process is tedious. I don’t want to do it again. I felt like I finally found a home here. I loved our coaches. I love my teammates. 

There is much more to track and field than just running around in ovals. I can only hope the university does the right thing and brings the program back, along with the coaches. We all deserve better. Track deserves better.

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