CSUB's Emily Hansen goes for a kill. The Centennial grad won't have a fall season, following the Big West's decision to cancel all fall sports last week

Having already endured months of bad news, athletes competing in fall sports at Cal State Bakersfield were still surprised by this latest setback.

With their seasons already months behind schedule, the Roadrunner cross country, indoor volleyball and men's and women's soccer teams felt the final axe fall on them last Thursday, when the Big West announced those sports were being officially canceled during for the 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Fall sports were initially slated to be pushed back into the spring. But after months of discussions with Big West officials and athletic directors, CSUB AD Kenneth Siegfried said there was "just no feasible way to keep those student-athletes safe" during competition.

"It was definitely hard news to take in," said Emily Hansen, a senior hitter on the Roadrunner volleyball team. "It's still kind of sinking in that I won't be playing indoor this year. It's upsetting, for sure."

Having seen the school's men's and women's basketball teams return to action recently, Tom Shepherd, a senior forward on the Roadrunner men's soccer team, was confident his team would get a similar opportunity, and says he was a bit blind-sided by last week's announcement.

"For me it was kind of a big shock," said Shepherd, who recently returned to his home in the United Kingdom. "We were kind of hoping the basketball season would be a success and that would lead to a spring season. I was not expecting that."

Despite their disappointment, Hansen and Shepherd are clinging to the hope that their college careers aren't over.

Shepherd, who is hoping to play soccer professionally after college, is planning to return for another season at CSUB, after it was ruled that all affected athletes could retain a year of eligibility. He plans to begin work on a master's degree this spring.

Hansen hasn't decided whether or not to return next fall. Hoping to join the California Highway Patrol, she is unsure if she wants to delay her entry into law enforcement another year.

But even if she opts out of the 2021 indoor season, she still might have a shot to compete with CSUB's beach volleyball team this spring.

The Big West is still hoping to host spring sports in 2021 and Siegfried says the league is using the current basketball season to test how equipped schools are to host future athletic events.

"(The beach season) gives us something to still look forward to," says Hansen, a 2017 graduate of Centennial High School. "Obviously that was a devastating thing to hear that we're not having an indoor season, but it gives you a little hope knowing you can still have some sort of competition."

With a coronavirus vaccine said to be on the way, Shepherd, who is still working out twice a day in anticipation for a return to the field, says there's nothing left to do but continue preparing and hope for the best potential outcome.

"We just have to keep our fingers crossed," he said.