Collegiate sports cuts impact NHS grads

By: 
Sonja Karp

Photo courtesy of Cindy Rhoades

For the second time this year, the COVID-19 has derailed Jacob Rhoades’ soccer career as Sheridan College cancelled most of their sports programs.

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter

 

When Jacob Rhoades signed on to play soccer for Sheridan College this spring, it helped a bit to ease the disappointment he suffered when COVID-19 stole his final season of high school soccer from him.

Little did he know, the ‘Rona (Coronavirus) wasn’t done pulling the rug out from under him.

Social media was abuzz last Thursday with big news from both Gillette and Sheridan colleges as they announced their decision to cut nearly all of their sports programs.

“I got an email from the coach last Wednesday that said the board had approved our season, so I was expecting to play,” Rhoades began. “Then about 24 hours later, I got an email from the dean saying that they were eliminating the sports teams, so I was pretty shocked.”

According to the schools, the cuts were made due to a nearly $4 million reduction in funding resulting from losses during the pandemic. By eliminating four programs at Gillette and five at Sheridan, the savings are expected to come in at around $2.8 million.

“I was super excited to play on another level, but really, I was just super excited to play soccer again,” Rhoades sighed. “I didn’t get my senior season so it was definitely a let-down.”

Dylon Tidyman shared in Rhoades’ disappointment as the news broke because he also saw his collegiate sports career hopes dashed. Tidyman had signed with the Generals to play basketball, however unlike Rhoades, he wasn’t receiving any athletic scholarships.

“I was definitely shocked when I heard that they were cancelling basketball, and I wish we had been given a little heads up, but I guess no one was,” Tidyman frowned. “I’ve started looking at other schools to see if I might have an option to play, but so far, I haven’t had any luck.”

Both Rhoades and Tidyman have determined that they will try to find another school to attend where they can continue to play their sport. Rhoades had been in contact with Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne prior to committing to Sheridan, so he hopes to be able to transfer next year, while Tidyman is attempting to walk on at Casper College in the 2020-2021 season.

“I’m not done yet,” Rhoades nodded. “I’m not willing to let my soccer career end, so I’ll do what I can to try to make that happen.”

“Coach [Allen] VonEye and I have put in some calls to Casper, but haven’t heard anything back yet,” Tidyman stated. “Right now, I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Cooper and Jake Deveraux also received an email from the dean at Gillette College where the two had received scholarships to rodeo for the Pronghorns. 

“As soon as we heard the news, Jake immediately got on the phone and started calling other schools to see what our options were,” Cooper exclaimed. “However, then we found out that rodeo was still a go, so that was a relief.”

Though the rodeo program survived the sports cuts, it didn’t come out of it completely unscathed.

“They did reduce funding for travel and there won’t be as much practice stock, but we will still get to compete so that’s great,” Cooper smiled. “We also still have our timed events coach and roughstock coach, but they had their salaries cut in half.”

Thus far, no other junior colleges in the region have eliminated their sports programs so there is still hope for Rhoades and Tidyman to find another team, and there are still other schools for the Deveraux’s to compete against.

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