"It's what we have to do if we want to compete this season," said new College of the Siskiyous Athletic Director Charlie Roche.The California Community College Athletic Association Board announced last Thursday that all fall sports programs will compete in the spring term.
Cross Country in the snow? Baseball and football practices running concurrently? That’s what the future holds for junior college athletes across the state after the California Community College Athletic Association Board announced last Thursday that fall and winter sports have been pushed to the spring term due to the COVID-19 pandemic – including those at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.
Competition will be reduced to 70% of the maximum number of contest/dates/games currently permissible.
Sports that normally start early in the spring term, such as baseball, will now begin games in April.
New COS athletic director Charlie Roche believes this was the right decision to make with things in constant flux due to the pandemic.
"It's what we have to do if we want to compete this season," he said. "With everything happening we are trying to make the best of a really difficult situation."
Athletes that play more than one sport at COS may have a tricky schedule this year, but Roche said the coaches will work closely with the players to make it work as much as possible.
At COS, football, men's and women's basketball, women’s volleyball, cross country, and men's and women's soccer will begin practices Jan. 18, with games set to start Feb. 5 for all sports but football, which is scheduled to start Feb. 13. Conference play would end April 6, Regional playoffs would start on April 10, with the season ending on April 17.
For baseball, softball and track and field, practices will begin March 27, with games starting April 10 and conference play concluding on June 12. Regional playoffs will begin June 16 and the season will conclude on June 23.
"Definitely crazy times, so we're just trying to adapt and do the best we can," said COS men's head basketball coach Kyle Heath. "I’m definitely nervous how this all plays out, but hope that these young men get to compete and have a season this year.”
A positive, Heath said, is the team will have extra time to work out. Freshman will have time to get to know their teammates better, get in shape "and get locked in for next season.”
While there are several local hoops players coming in as freshmen this season, many are from out the area, so they will have to decide if they will start school in the fall or in January.
"I’m telling each guy they just have to be here in January ready to go, but there will be guys here in the fall so it’s a tough one," he said. " I just want what's best for them and their families."
Roche said that a return to athletics in January "will only occur if it is safe to do so."
The decision will be guided primarily by state and local health guidelines.
"This will give us more time to see what things look like by then," Roche said.
Noelle Collier, who took over for Tom Powers as COS’s head women’s basketball coach, said the overall feeling from players is grateful to hear they’ll still have a season.
“Things are looking a little different than normal so we're all taking a few minutes to wrap our heads around what this year might look like,” Collier said.
Collier added that she’s had weekly meetings with the COS athletic department, as well as other women's basketball coaches from the Golden Valley Conference to be sure they’re all on the same page.
New COS cross country head coach Steve Pyles, who is also the assistant coach of the track program, said they plan to combine track and cross country into one preseason training class this fall.
"I think it will be a good team-building experience and an opportunity to train hard in the wilderness," he said. "The athletics love running on the trails in Siskiyou County and the autumn months are the perfect time to do that."
With track, it has always been a challenge to train for field events in the winter months.
"It is almost impossible to pole vault or high jump in a storm," he said. “The later start date will make it easier to train for these events.”
One interesting aspect of the change is fall sports will now be competing outdoors during the winter months. Roche said this could present an interesting set of challenges to play and practice if there is a significant amount of snow on the ground.
Cross Country runners will now have to contend with snow on the ground in January and February. Pyles said that to him "running in a rain or a snowstorm can be fun.”
"I don't think track and cross country are going to be negatively impacted," Pyles said. "We will come up with a plan to endure the elements."
College of the Siskiyous will offer on campus this fall the normal off-season intercollegiate courses.
The off-season courses include:
• Strength training
• Speed training
• Agility training
• Sports Specific skill training
The plan chosen by the CCCAA board was one of three potential scenarios approved by the board in early June. Each plan was dependent on which phase of reopening the state of California was in by July 17.
One of the plans included the “conventional plan,” which kept all sports except men’s and women’s basketball in their traditional places on the calendar. However, it was reliant on California being in Phase 4 of its reopening by mid-July, a likelihood that’s greatly diminished in recent weeks.
“I know I speak for the entire CCCAA Board that moving Fall athletics to Spring 2021 is a huge disappointment,” said Dr. Erika Endrijonas, Board Chair and President of Pasadena City College in a press release. “However, the need to keep our student-athletes and the amazing coaches and athletic trainers who work with them safe was simply the only option available with the virus spiraling out of control across the state.”
The CCCAA has 110-member colleges and approximately 24,000 student-athletes.