COVID-19 Pushes Fall Sports to Spring 2021
By Kaiyo Funaki
The California Community College Athletic Association Board of Directors has agreed to execute the Contingency Plan, a proposal that effectively reschedules all 11 of City College’s sports to the spring of 2021.
The plan was one of three possibilities suggested by the board in June.
The board proposed the Conventional Plan and the Contact/Non-Contact Plan in the hopes of preserving at least some of the fall sports schedule.
However, with California still shut down due to COVID-19, the Contingency Plan became the clear choice as the safest option for both athletes and coaching staff alike.
“I think it was a decision that had to be made. It was inevitable with the current circumstances, and we support the CCCAA’s decision to make safety a priority for our student-athletes and coaches,” Women’s Athletic Director Jamie Hayes said.
The blueprint pushes basketball, cross country, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, and women’s water polo from fall to early spring. As of now, these teams would start practicing in mid-January for two weeks, then play out the regular season from early February to mid-April.
It also tentatively schedules baseball, track and field, women’s badminton, women’s swimming, and women’s tennis to begin practice in late March to mitigate schedule overlap, with the season lasting from mid-April to late June.
Each sport will have their seasons reduced by at least 30% and will play only conference and regional opponents.
Though the CCCAA canceled all state championships, teams will still be able to qualify for postseason conference matches.
The association also adjusted eligibility rules to accommodate for the pandemic.
“The programs that participated in the spring [of 2020]…won’t be charged with a season of eligibility,” Men’s Athletic Director Harold Brown said. “If you were a freshman, for instance, playing baseball and your season was cut short due to COVID-19, you will still go into the 2021 season as a freshman.”
With 300 to 350 student-athletes participating across 15 teams and 11 different sports, maintaining communication has been crucial for coaches to keep their players engaged as they wait at least another five months before official in-person activities.
“The biggest thing is encouraging individuals to keep taking care of themselves and keep improving on their training and skills,” Women’s Swimming and Waterpolo Head Coach Phong Pham said.
Ram’s Football Head Coach Jimmy Collins has stayed positive despite the delayed season
“For our players, this will be one of the best things that have ever happened to them, assuming the virus doesn’t directly affect any of our guys,” Collins said. “We now have a goal that each and every one of our players is going to attempt to graduate from their four-year college with at least one season of eligibility still intact.”
Though there is still a possibility that the season might get postponed again or even canceled, the athletic department has taken precautionary measures to deal with variables in their control.
“All of our coaches have submitted a plan for social distancing, safe practice, and also cleaning. We have been in touch with the custodial department, and they have done a great job ordering things we need to keep everything sanitized and making sure we do the best we can do to abide by all compliance issues,” Brown said.
Men’s Basketball Head Coach Justin Labagh described the process of ensuring everyone’s safety as “extensive.”
“We’ll have temperature checks, a ton of sanitizer, clean the gym and close the gym down 45 minutes in between groups practicing,” he said. “Groups will never…cross paths in the building.”
While student-athletes were disappointed to have to wait until the spring to compete, there was also a collective understanding that the governing body made this decision to protect everyone involved.
Second-year athlete for both the swim and water polo team Melanie Beavan-Szabo expressed concerns about playing two different sports in the same semester.
“I’m glad that training will be starting soon, but of course, I’m going to miss water polo being in the fall. Having the competition at the same time in the spring semester will be a little stressful.”
Second-year shooting guard for the basketball team Ezekiel Holman also felt that it might take a while to adjust to this new reality.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a little bit of like a learning curve for all the sports that usually take place earlier in the year, he said. “Ultimately, I think it’s smart to see how the whole pandemic progresses.”