On Aug. 11, the Minnesota State High School League announced that the fall seasons for football and volleyball would be pushed back to the spring due to COVID-19.
Hutchinson is a football town, part of the culture here is the Friday night lights at S.R. Knutson Field. So a fall with no football is a huge change for the players. Every year for most of their lives, it was summer vacation, mid-August report for summer workouts, then the season begins. That’s been taken away and left a hole for the players.
Yes, they could just work out in the weight room, but staying in shape is also about conditioning. Linebacker Tristan Hoppe said that he believed that the season was going to get pushed back and figured that he and the team had to do something to stay sharp.
“I as a kid actually played lacrosse in the middle school days,” Hoppe said. “I ended up quitting, then I was talking to some of the guys and I was like, ‘Well, we don’t have a sport, we have to run around somehow. Break in the cleats.’ So we decided to play lacrosse. Running around, hitting guys with sticks, I mean what’s better than that?”
Tiger football players Hoppe and teammate Jordan Titus led the charge for more guys to join the fall club lacrosse team. They reached out on the team’s social media group, and in about a week they started to get responses.
Fifteen players joined the club team, and Titus is the only one who has never played a minute of lacrosse before. That didn’t matter to him, he was going to do something in the fall and chose to follow Hoppe, and then others did the same.
“With it being my senior year, I want to fulfill my high school experience,” Titus said. “Being able to look back at the year, the COVID year, and reflect on how I joined lacrosse and everything, to look back and say I was able to do it.”
Tanya Schultz, the Hutchinson Lacrosse Association’s boys lacrosse director, told players if they could get her the numbers, she can get them a team.
“Next thing I knew I had 26 guys,” Schultz said.
The season will be short. The Tigers squeeze in two games every Sunday between Sept. 13 and Oct. 4 for a total of eight, all played at Wayzata High School. The season also ends with a tournament Oct. 10-11 in the Cities, where the team is guaranteed another four games.
None of this is ideal for the players, obviously. For many of them, their No. 1 sport is football, so it’s been a transition. This wasn’t their plan heading into their senior year. A pandemic took away a fall Hutchinson tradition. But while they may not be playing the sport they love at the moment, they are trying to make the best of a tough situation.
“For guys like me and (Hoppe), we haven’t had a fall without football since we were 8 years old,” Titus said.
“We’re teenage kids, we’ve got to do something,” Hoppe said. “Sitting at home, it’s fun at first, but once you’re doing it for awhile it’s like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. So let’s just get out as a team and have fun doing it.’”