UTEP soccer begins practice with schedule in flux

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Being comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s the motto the UTEP women’s soccer is living by as they begin practicing in preparation for the 2020 season — whatever that may look like.

Women’s soccer is the first athletic program at UTEP to begin practicing with safety policies and procedures in place to protect student-athletes and coaches from the spread of COVID-19.

Kathryn Balogun, who enters her second season as head coach, believes the sport of soccer has proven it can move forward amidst a pandemic.

“I mean, we were the first sport back in terms of worldwide competition,” said Balogun. “Across the pond, they were playing and they were back in the early part of summer — Champions League and the Bundesliga. Soccer has shown that it can be done, to this point, the best without being put in a bubble.”

The Miners return eight starters from last year’s team that finished 10-7-3 (5-4-1 in Conference USA play). However, it’s unclear how many games UTEP will be able to schedule in 2020. The current schedule has them opening at home on Sept. 3 against Lubbock Christian, but the NCAA has canceled Division II fall sports championships, meaning it’s unlikely fall sports will happen at all at the Division II level. Scheduling and rescheduling has become the norm for the Miners.

“Nobody knows [who we’ll play]. Everyone is taking it one day at a time. I think our schedule has changed nine million times,” joked Balogun.

For the players who have been in quarantine since March, it’s about taking advantage of the time they have together right now on the practice field.

“Coming out now and having the opportunity we have now — we’re trying to take the most advantage of it because we’ve been where we were before and we couldn’t do anything about that,” said junior forward Kam Fisher.

In all likeliness, UTEP would open the season on the road at Texas on Sept. 6, followed by another road match at Baylor on Sept. 10.

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