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COVID-19: Sports season on track to happen at College of the Siskiyous

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
Jackson Grigsby of the COS baseball team gets ready to catch the ball during a game last season.

College of the Siskiyous is on track to have sports teams begin practices in January and for games to start in February.

On Friday, the California Community Colleges Athletic Association voted to stick to their original contingency plan which was approved July 8, although the board could have decided to reduce games or delay the season.

All COS sports teams have been able to meet and train together using social distancing methods in hopes their seasons will become a reality. 

COS athletic director Charle Roche said “in a nutshell,” traditional fall and winter sports like football and basketball will begin practices in January and games in February, while spring sports like baseball will start practices in March and play games in April. There will be no state games this season.

He said the school was pleased the board decided to continue with this plan. "It's the best option for us,” Roche said. 

Men’s and women’s basketball will have 20 games and two scrimmages. Football will have seven games and a scrimmage. Cross country will have six meets; men's and women's soccer 15 games; and women's volleyball 17 games. 

Spring sports begin spring practices on March 27, with events starting on April 10. Conference play concludes on June 12. Regional games begin June 16 and the season ends June 23. Baseball and softball will have 28 games plus two scrimmages, while track and field will have nine meets. 

“Athletics is a major motivation for many of our students to attend College of the Siskiyous,” said the school's president Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker. “Research clearly links physical fitness with mental preparation for learning, making both an integral part of our students’ success at the college.” 

Schoonmaker said the college is “guardedly optimistic that by continuing our health and safety protocols that have worked well this fall, the college will be able to compete in both fall and spring sports during the spring 2021 semester.” 

Roche said the Management Council Working Group will come up with a deadline before the end of this semester where individual colleges can opt-in or opt-out of participating in athletic competition either in individual sports or as an entire school. At this time, COS has no intention of opting out but said he has heard other schools that may take this option, and some may not participate in some or all sports this season.

Roche said that it will be a local decision for each college to participate, and local conditions may change allowing colleges to participate or not.  

He said the CCCAA Executive Director has the authority to work with conferences for hosting additional colleges in the event that a conference does not have enough teams to field a schedule due to colleges opting out of competition.

At COS, Roche said the school must follow IHE Guidance for testing.  Athletic trainers are working on protocols for tests.  

Competition between teams without spectators is permitted to begin only if the IHE can provide COVID-19 testing and results within 48 hours of competition in high-risk contact sports. 

This guidance adopts the “high-risk sport” classification specified in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s guidelines for re-socialization of sports which include basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball, for sports being offered at COS. 

Roche said things could change depending on what happens with CVOD the next few months and guidelines set by the state and Siskiyou County. 

COS head men’s basketball coach Kyle Heath said that he is “excited that the vote went in favor of having a season" and believes COS and the athletic department has "done a great job of following the guidelines" to create a safe environment for athletes.

“My group seems to really like being around each other,” Heath said. “We’ve been talking this whole time about trying to get better every day and this group seems to really embrace that idea. They’ve consistently worked hard and are all coachable and seem to want to get better daily.” 

 “We understand as a program that there are more serious things going on than junior college basketball but for us here working daily and grinding and trying to build something, we’re all very excited to get to play this year,” Heath added. “I think it’s really helping my guys to get back to normal after how crazy everything has been and continues to be.”   

The CCCAA Board of Directors on Friday also approved a motion to provide student-athletes a waiver for any CCCAA competition during the 2020-21 athletic year in order to support the success, safety, and well-being of student-athletes.