GREAT FALLS — After squeezing in two early games around Thanksgiving, the MSU-Northern women’s basketball team was looking forward to starting its Frontier Conference schedule Saturday against Rocky Mountain College. But instead, head coach Chris Mouat's Skylights (and almost every team in the Frontier) are already facing postponed games thanks to COVID-19.
"We're not alone. Everybody's dealing with it," Mouat said. "I don't think it's a thing where we're sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, but at the same time, I know it does get disappointing when you have games scheduled and boom, you know that it's canceled."
The status of the Skylights’ scheduled games against Lewis-Clark State on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 is still up in the air. Keeping the team focused when the schedule is unsteady is one thing. But conference games, like the opener against Rocky, will have to be made up this spring, where the schedule was already packed.
That means January and February will likely be filled with more games than practice.
"I think for kids, it's probably fun. You know, they want to play games," Mouat said. "For us as coaches, I think it's stressful, because the prep time is going to be really condensed. We do try to prep teams and have an idea what they're doing, a good idea of what they're trying to do to us, and vice versa."
But this isn’t the first time one of Moaut’s teams has dealt with prolonged disruption to its schedule. In his first season at Northern 16 years ago, the team van was in a bad accident, leaving many players injured and everyone rattled mentally.
"We were down to only four healthy players. We took a month off right at the beginning. We were five games into our season, had to take a month off -- basically let kids heal, mentally, physically the whole thing," he said. "But then, we knew once we were coming back from that month, that we would finish the season."
After this long break, who knows when the next long break will come. All Moaut can do right now is give a simple message.
"Just be ready to go on Monday," he said. "Be ready to go, when we can walk back out there for practice, be ready to go."