The year started with Colorado Mesa’s new, energetic football, Tremaine Jackson, coach arriving in town on Jan. 2, vowing changes on and off the field.
It ended with athletes being tested weekly for coronavirus, owning several versions of CMU-emblazoned face masks and thankful for every chance they get to play.
In between, it was business as usual for some of the Mavs, with some business quite different.
CMU was the only Div. II team in the nation to have every winter sport represented in the national championships — men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field and men’s wrestling.
That’s when 2020 went off the rails.
None of those teams got to compete at the national level. The NCAA canceled championships on March 12 because of the coronavirus, forcing teams to turn around for home either shortly after arriving at their regional sites or only hours into the trip.
That same weekend, CMU’s baseball and softball teams were preparing for conference games when they were told the seasons were on hold, then ultimately canceled with both teams in first place in the RMAC — the baseball team has won eight straight conference titles and the softball team four.
The NCAA later announced that all spring athletes would receive another year of eligibility, and as a result of the ongoing pandemic truncating seasons this year, fall and winter athletes in the 2020-2021 academic year also get an additional year to play.
The pandemic cost the CMU cycling team a chance to compete in the BMX and road national races, and a couple of months after those races were canceled, the Mavericks were awarded the overall national championship based on leading the team omnium standings to that point.
The majority of fall sports this school year were moved to spring, but football received the option to play in the fall, and the Mavs jumped at the chance. CMU scheduled five games and played three, going 2-1 in Jackson’s first abbreviated season. His vow to change the culture of the program was evident, with players getting involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and every player voting in November.
Basketball and wrestling seasons, all conference schedules only, began as scheduled, with both basketball teams nationally ranked. Most teams dealt with small outbreaks of the virus, halting practices as necessary.
Off the field, CMU made three coaching changes, dismissing men’s soccer coach Todd Padgett in October and women’s lacrosse coach Shanta Loecker in April. Women’s soccer coach Dani Thurman resigned to attend dental hygiene school. Alex Garza is coaching the men’s team on an interim basis, with CMU hiring Shannon McHale to coach women’s lacrosse and Megan Remec hired as the women’s soccer coach.