“It's tough,” COS softball player Ashley Cox said. “Sports fill up my schedule every day.”

The coronavirus has impacted many lives in many different ways. Four sophomore athletes from the College of the Siskiyous who had their softball or track and field seasons suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak spoke of their feelings when the news hit home.

Thursday, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Board of Directors voted to immediately postpone practices outside of regularly scheduled classes. Competition for all spring sports, as well as any and all nontraditional sports seasons, were called off indefinitely.

When the Golden Valley Conference softball season ended prematurely,  Ashley Cox, a Yreka High graduate, was winning the triple crown: as she led the league in batting average and runs batted in, and was tied for the lead in home runs.

She hasn’t lined up a school to transfer to next year. “I’m looking at a couple of division 2 schools and a small division 1 school,” she said. She’s talked to coaches but has yet to choose a school. Finishing the season would have padded her resume.

Cox played volleyball and basketball at a high level but knows that softball is her best sport and the one she’ll pursue as she furthers her education. She credits her father, COS softball coach Jon Cox, with instilling in her a love of the game. “I play for my dad.”

Her last two likely games for COS, a doubleheader sweep of Shasta College in which they scored 23 runs, were “the best we played all year. We all played with all of our heart.”

“It’s tough,” she said, “sports fill up my schedule every day.”

For fellow softballer, Carson Dickinson, an Etna High grad, the cancellation was “heartbreaking. The team put in so much time and now it’s torn away.” Like all the athletes we interviewed she recognized that ending the season was a measure that had to be taken, but that didn’t make it any easier.

“We did a lot of team bonding this year.,” she said. “We wanted to make the playoffs,.  This was not a far-fetched possibility with the Eagles riding a 6-game winning streak and coming off two wins in their GVC opening games.

“That was the last we’ll ever get to play together,” she lamented.

She’ll attend Southern Oregon University next year where she’ll eschew softball and concentrate on her studies in health and physical education.

Dominique Navarrette won the discus throw in the 2019 California Community College State Track and Field Meet as a freshman. He won’t get the chance to defend his title.

“I had a bunch of emotions,” he said. “I didn’t believe it.” When the reality sank in he knew he was done competing for the season.

 “I know how contagious it is,” he continued. He conceded that the shutdown of spring sports had to be done.

He’ll miss what he called “travel camaraderie” the most. The COS team would have journeyed to the Aggie Open at UC Davis last weekend. “It would have been our first overnight meet.” The cancellation “hurts not just me but my teammates, too.”

Missing their final season hurts some of the athletes in other ways. Anyone good enough to continue competing in their sport at the 4-year college level hopes to use their final season to impress prospective coaches enough to earn some scholarship assistance.

Navarrette showed enough promise in his freshman season to gain “a pretty nice scholarship” at Cal Poly Pomona, though he faces uncertainty as to how many years of eligibility remaining for him.

Eagle distance runner Hope Dodgen found the cancellation “upsetting and disappointing.” The GVC cross-country champ in 2018,  Dodgen was hampered by an Achilles injury and was unable to defend her title last Fall. She looked forward to spring track as a final chance to make her mark.

While she ran a couple of early-season meets, she was disappointed “to end my season, not at my best.” Distance runners try to “peak”, to be in their best shape for the season end conference and state meets.

She’ll get another chance to be at her best next fall at Southern Oregon University where she’ll run cross country and track while majoring in political science.

The four athletes have different regrets, but all now have an eye on the future.

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