Fall Sports photo

With the courts still bereft of snow, Mission Park offers a good outlet for any student looking to play tennis in the fall weather. 

While the summer’s heat finally fades away and the early warning signs of a true Spokane winter graced campus Friday, autumn eases the Lilac City into the expected short and cold days which accompany the semester’s end. It may not quite be time to pack the Subaru and head up to Schweitzer, but Spokane’s gorgeous autumn offers Zags ample opportunity to get outside and play some great sports before the ground freezes over.

Traditionally, autumn offers sports fans with a fantastic viewing slate. The NFL is in full swing, baseball wraps up with the World Series — appropriately coined the Fall Classic — and the Zags’ basketball squads begin their preparations for the long season ahead. In this crazy COVID-19 sports calendar, golf fans eagerly await a crisp November Masters at Augusta National. Yet, the season also allows Gonzaga students to play sports in addition to watching them.

Golf: Spokane’s famous golf scene keeps its doors open for just a tad bit longer, with the municipal courses slated to close in early November. Students hoping to squeeze another round or two in before the season ends should look no further than the college budget-friendly $20 twilight rounds at Esmerelda Golf Course and Downriver Golf Course. Both located within a 10-minute drive of campus, the courses provide a great challenge for golfers of any skill level.

Disc Golf: For those trying to break par without breaking the bank, disc golf offers a great opportunity to get out in the beautiful pockets of Spokane County. At a very rudimentary level, players need only one disc, usually running $10-15, and most courses are free. Spokane boasts over a dozen disc golf courses, with some of the favorites among students being High Bridge Disc Gold Course, Downriver Golf Course and Beacon Disc Golf Course. Resembling a hike more than a traditional golf course, disc golf offers an enjoyable, COVID-compliant experience.

“Even if you’re having a bad day, you’re still walking around in nature,” said Emmet Rice, a senior at GU. “It’s a great way to get out with friends in a socially-distanced way. 

Basketball: While GU’s teams prep for the upcoming season, hoopers of the GU community will find the weather tolerable enough to get some games in. Even with the Rudolf Fitness Center’s fieldhouse courts remaining closed to pick-up hoops, Mission Park contains the closest public black top. Plus, the courts at Peaceful Valley, Chief Garry and Thornton Murphy parks recently got face-lifts from local artists, offering students a playing surface as gorgeous as their footwork.

Baseball/Catch: Full-fledged baseball or whiffle ball might not satisfy COVID-19 guidelines, but for lovers of the national pastime a simple game of catch offers a great opportunity to get outside and be active. With Mulligan Field, Foley or Herak Lawn and Mission Park providing ample space for this low-stress activity, students need not travel far to warm up the arm.

Spikeball: A fan-favorite pastime on college campuses across the country, Spikeball offers a great way to be active outside. Popular spots to set up a net around campus include Mulligan, Foley Field and the Coughlin Lawns. A new Spikeball set costs $59.99 on Amazon, and the sport is a quick learn for players of all talent levels. 

“You don’t have to be a specific athlete to play,” said Jack O’Neil, a GU alumnus. “It’s a very welcoming game that you can tone up or tone down to your group’s needs.”

Football: With the NFL and around half of college football playing each weekend, tossing the pigskin around is a great halftime activity. Similar to the above catch blurb, there are a multitude of open areas on GU’s campus to run some routes.

Soccer/Hacky Sack: If the football you prefer is of the international variety, Mulligan’s recent reopening means open nets on campus. While full pickup games may not be the best idea, ripping some shots at goal with a friend or two is a great way to relieve some stress and pretend you’re suiting up for Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby. 

For those looking for a great way to engage the feet without a net, a simple hacky sack circle is a nice, casual way to be active outside.

Zachary Walls is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachWallsTV

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