Covington High School graduate Tyler Dressler is a starter for the Richmond football team.
Salem High School graduate Evyn Magenbauer is a starter for the Richmond women’s soccer team.
But neither will be playing in games in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s going to be weird because I’ve played football since I could probably walk and this is the first year that I haven’t actually played,” Dressler said in a phone interview this week.
Dressler and Magenbauer do have the spring to look forward to, however.
Richmond belongs to the Colonial Athletic Association for football and to the Atlantic 10 for its other sports.
The CAA announced on July 17 that it would not have a football season in the fall. CAA member James Madison still plans to play football this fall, but Richmond and most of the other CAA football teams instead hope to play in the spring.
“When it did get canceled, … we were all hurt,” Dressler said. “We’ve been training our entire life to play football.
“We felt like we had a very good team returning, that we could compete for championships.”
The A-10 also made news on July 17, announcing it would not have a fall sports season. The A-10 hopes to play those sports in the spring.
“We were disappointed and sad, but I guess it will just give us more time to prepare for the spring,” said Magenbauer, a rising third-year sophomore.
“We definitely understand the decision because during this time, you have to understand that the health of not only those involved in athletics is important but the health of all people in the country.”
Dressler, who earned All-CAA first-team honors at linebacker last fall, is a rising senior.
The NCAA fall sports championships, including the FCS football playoffs, are still scheduled to be held in 2020. But the NCAA Board of Governors could decide next week to cancel them or move them to the spring.
The Spiders are ranked No. 20 in the FCS Top 25 in the Street & Smith’s football preview magazine. So having a shot at the playoffs is important to them.
Dressler said if the FCS playoffs are not moved to the spring, the Richmond coaches told him he and a few others could probably redshirt next spring so they could return next fall and pursue a playoff berth.
Dressler, who has never been redshirted in his career, would indeed want to return next fall as a fifth-year senior if the playoffs are not moved to next spring.
“If it’s a shortened season without playoffs, what are you really doing? We want to win a championship,” he said. “If we’re not playing for a championship, I feel like you’d almost just waste a year of eligibility.
“[But] if there’s a full season in the spring, we’re going all out.”
Under NCAA football rules, Dressler could play in up to four games next spring and still be redshirted.
Dressler verbally committed to VMI in December 2016, when he was a Covington senior. But when linebackers coach Justin Wood left VMI to become a Richmond assistant, he asked Dressler to pick the Spiders instead. After being offered a full scholarship, Dressler signed with Richmond in February 2017.
He recorded 104 tackles and four sacks as a Spiders junior last fall, when he led the Colonial with an average of 9.5 tackles per game.
He has been named a preseason FCS second-team All-American by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview magazine.
“Covington, it’s a small town and … I didn’t know a whole lot of football. I just played hard,” Dressler said. “Once I got here, my coach [Wood] built me brick by brick.”
Last April, Dressler was named one of Richmond’s five captains for the 2020 season. So he is determined to help lead the team as it readies for the spring.
“Our mindset now is to readjust. … We’re going to play football eventually,” he said.
Of course, if the pandemic is still causing havoc next spring, the CAA might not have a football season at that point, either.
“The situation is so dynamic, we don’t even know if [a spring season] is going to happen,” Dressler said. “We’re just going to keep working.”
He returned to Richmond earlier this month and is living in an off-campus apartment. He is training with some teammates and the Richmond strength and conditioning coaches.
Magenbauer has a summer internship in Richmond, so she is also living in an off-campus apartment. The former two-time All-Timesland first-team pick had been hoping to start preseason practice in early August, but that will no longer be the case.
Magenbauer, a defender on partial scholarship, was redshirted as a Richmond true freshman in 2018 because of two hip surgeries. She also had to miss the first four games last season. But she wound up starting 13 games last fall for the 7-9-2 Spiders.
“It was so much fun,” she said of last season. “I forgot how much I really loved playing soccer.”
Magenbauer had been looking forward to this coming fall. So she hopes the pandemic won’t prevent the Spiders from playing in the spring as well.
“This time for all athletes has taught us how to be flexible in the face of uncertainty,” she said. “I’m confident we’ll play. I’m just going to hope for the best.
“We’re going to do everything we can to prepare for the spring and try to really have a great spring.”
She figures the move to the spring will increase the team’s odds of making it through an entire season.
“I personally would rather have more of a chance in the spring to complete a full schedule, rather than get there this fall and things change [because of the pandemic] and maybe we don’t play a full schedule,” she said.
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