Shut-down of University of Cincinnati’s Soccer Team Affects Mason Graduate

Alana Amaya | Staff Writer

The University of Cincinnati’s men’s soccer program came to an unexpected shutdown on April 13, 2020. Sophomore Ben Wendell, outside defender for the UC men’s soccer team, is a former Mason student who was emotionally hit hard by the shutdown. 

Wendell said that although he understood that most sports don’t bring in much revenue for the university, he was surprised that the Men’s soccer team was the one that got cut. Wendell said that the team wasn’t completely prepared for the shutdown. 

“I know they’re making financial cuts to certain programs, I don’t really know what that looks like for other teams, but we’re the only team getting absolutely cut. They haven’t really specified why it was our program specifically, they said there were financial problems,” Wendell said. “Almost every sport outside of Football and Basketball loses money for the University. Soccer’s financial impact to the athletic department, or at least men’s soccer for sure, was on the lower half of the other teams that don’t make money, our budget was a lot smaller than the other teams.”

Injuries can cut the season short for many College athletes, and the road to recovery can be a long one. After receiving an LCL injury in his knee, Wendell said that he pushed himself to cut that recovery as short as possible, in order to continue to play for the team. Wendell said it was even more of a heartbreak for him to experience a cancellation of the team after the work he put into recovering. 

“I spent the rest of that semester, so basically from the end of October to Christmas, in the training room every day rehabbing that knee trying to come back for the Spring,” Wendell said. “I succeeded in that and came back full go for the first practice in January. I worked my butt off to get the fitness and skill back up, and then obviously devastating to not have any more practices or play games after missing the last quarter of the season.”

Going to college to pursue your academic needs and athletic dreams can be a very difficult thing to balance out. Wendell said he felt very emotional considering he has found exactly what he was looking for at UC, and now some of it is being taken away. 

“I was very emotional because being a Cincinnati kid, my dream was playing here,” Wendell said. “The school offered me the all-round student-athlete experience that I needed for what I wanted to study, and who and where I wanted to play, so it was devastating, your life just kind of flips upside down.”

Pushing to get better as both a player and a team is a major part of being a part of a College program, and Wendell said that both he and other members of the men’s soccer team are angry and disappointed that they are not able to show all of their practice and hard work out on the field.

“We’re a pretty close group of guys so obviously we talked about it as a team, everyone was pretty pissed off. I think the whole team was kind of on the same boat, we were all really excited to get these Spring games. We were finally starting to build the team to something great, and we were really excited to finally showcase all of the work that we put in that Spring,” Wendell said. “I don’t want to say it makes us feel like that work to waste, but it does make us feel like wow we just went through all that, and we don’t have a place to showcase it.”

Athletic scholarships are going to continue to be honored if the athletes choose to stay at UC for the remainder of their time at UC, but they are also given the opportunity to transfer to another school if they wish to have an opportunity to continue their soccer careers. Wendell said he is keeping his mind open to possibilities and has not made any definite decisions thus far, because his love for the university will make it hard to change paths so quickly. 

“Right now I’m keeping all my options open. I mean, I’m talking to other schools and other soccer programs UC will always still be an option. For me personally, it is really sad and very frustrating. I love UC, I loved playing for UC, and I’d do anything to continue playing for UC,” Wendell said. “I do have the opportunity to transfer schools and continue my collegiate career but we’ll see what happens and what I choose to do.”

Graphic contributed by The University of Cincinnati.