Training during a pandemic: COS Eagles are getting it done

Bill Choy
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers
College of the Siskiyous athletes have transformed the old tennis courts into an outdoor training facility to use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there may be no games until at least next year due to COVID-19, that does not mean athletes aren’t already preparing for the season.

Things were bustling at College of the Siskiyous in Weed on Thursday as athletes took to the outdoors to train on a beautiful – although fairly warm – day.

Members of the football team took part in weight training at the tennis courts, which have been covered to become an outdoor gym, with equipment spaced 12 feet apart. Other athletes were in the open grass next to the courts working on conditioning drills, while the softball team was on their field throwing the ball to one another.

While games likely won’t start until at least February, coaches and athletes said it means a lot to be able to begin training on campus.

Athletic Director Charlie Roche said approximately 172 athletes are taking part in training in all sports, from football to basketball and track and field. Classes, besides essential workforce classes, are being taught online for the most part.

Last week was the second -week teams got together. The first week was to get familiar with one another and go over social distancing guidelines.

“We’re trying to keep things as safe as possible and follow all the safety guidelines,” said Roche. “It’s been nice to have (athletes) back and have them prepare for the season. They are all doing an excellent job of following safety protocols. So far, so good.”

Roche said COS is  trying to keep things safe by staying outdoors as much as possible, which has included setting up outdoors basketball hoops. The teams are only allowed to use their own basketball while they work on shooting drills.

More:Education, health precautions on equal footing at College of the Siskiyous this fall

More:College of the Siskiyous lands grant for new fine arts complex

More:Exposed to COVID-19 and got negative test result? Here's why you should isolate anyway

Roche said COS is in the minority of California community Colleges. The majority are unable to be on the campus for training because their  counties are still seeing high levels of people testing positive for COVID-19. Roche said he’d just talked to the athletic director at Santa Rosa Community College, who related that their athletes were not allowed on campus. 

Roche said COS is fortunate to be in a more rural county. He said schools like Lassen and Feather River also can train on-campus due to low COVID-19 numbers in their county.

COS head men’s basketball coach Kyle Heath said that he had 15 guys working out. They began weight and speed training last weekend.

“I think the guys are excited just to be back around each other and able to work out again,” Heath said. “Giving them and our staff some return to normalcy.  Definitely a different setup with having to make sure guys are being smart and safe and following the health guidelines on a daily basis.”

Heath said his team is taking the safety procedures seriously.

“These guys know that they won’t have a season if all the people on campus don’t follow the guidelines so they’re all following the rules so far,” he said. “Right now we’re just trying to build our team culture and just try and get better each day.”

Jett Snure, a Mount Shasta High School graduate, was a key contributor for the Eagles as a true freshman last season.

Jett said with all the safety procedures, “overall (everything) feels more serious and involved than last season. We are on the campus for one reason, and that is to train and get better.”

“We have a lot of freshmen this season, so that puts a bit of pressure on me and the other two sophomores, but so far its been really good with the team, everyone seems very motivated as well,” Snure said.

He said he is looking forward to playing in front of the home fans again, which includes many folks who cheered him on in high school.

“Being a local is really nice because I always have the support of my family. Even though I’m on my own now, I still have friends and family to be with when I want to. Also, there’s an extra added amount of support for games being local.”

Snure said working at Berryvale in Mount Shasta, a lot of people come through and recognize him or the Siskiyous basketball shirt that he wears.

Kody Bauman, a fellow Mount Shasta grad who became a starter and all-conference selection last season at COS is ready to start his second year on the Eagles team.

“We are very happy to even have this season,” he said. “Just to be working out at the campus and seeing each other. We are ready to get to work, whether it’s outside for a long while or in the gym.”

He admits things have been an adjustment for everyone.

“Things have been going well although the school has been changed to online,” he said, “I would much rather be on campus for my whole schedule because that was what mostly kept me on track.”

Kody said that he has enjoyed working out and training outdoors.

“The set up at the tennis courts is the thing that me and my teammates look forward to most in the week,” he said. “Also, we just got a strength and conditioning coach from a D1 University so we are even more excited to be out there on the tennis court.” 

Jolene Rhoades of the College of the Siskiyous softball team throws the ball during training at the softball field at COS Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.

Megan Dean, an Etna High School graduate, is pleased to be back after the pandemic canceled her sophomore year of softball.

“I feel that it’s a privilege to be out here and be able to play with the team for one more year,” she said.

Community college athletes in California who were unable to play due to COVID-19 were given an option of returning for an extra year of eligibility.

Mount Shasta High graduate Jolene Rhoades is grateful for a third year of eligibility and has used the extra time to pursue two majors.

“It’s been truly nice to be back out here again,” she said. “It’s great to be getting back  and be able to play sports.”

Softball head coach Jon Cox said his team has been able to get together study halls for the team to make sure they are on top of their academics with classes being taught online.

“It’s been great to have them here and breaking off the rust and  work on conditioning and fundamentals,” he said.