Shorter seasons, no fans among early changes
On Tuesday, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) announced its new athletic plan for the 2020-21 season. But even with all its documents, powerpoints, charts, forms and more; there is still a lot up in the air about how sports will look this upcoming season.
Porterville College volleyball coach, Pete Rasmussen, and men’s and women’s cross country coach Michael Kasimoff, both said it was good there are plans in place but there’s still things they’re unsure about.
“It’s kind of all up in the air and it’s all fluid,” Rasmussen said Wednesday. “It seems like it changes daily.”
Kasimoff said PC athletics would have a ZOOM meeting Thursday at 2 p.m. to go over some things.
Some uncertainty centers around the CCCAA’s three plans — the Conventional Plan, the Contact/Non-Contact Plan and the Contingency Plan — which depend on the health guidelines of the state and what stage California is in on the Resilience Roadmap for COVID-19.
In effect currently is the Conventional Plan. It mirrors a normal athletic year but moves basketball to the spring and cuts the number of competitions down by 25%. This plan only remains in effect if the state is in Stage 4 on July 17, but most of the state only enters Stage 3 today.
In regard to competition, cross country drops from eight meets to six while volleyball goes from 24 to 18 – not counting playoffs.
Rasmussen, who is the Central Valley Conference’s volleyball representative, said the CVC came up with a plan to play the first half of their schedule normal than have two teams go to a third team’s site for dual matches to limit the number of contacts so they could have more to use for non-conference play.
“Contacts is basically how many days you can play,” Rasmussen said. “If we go to a site, we can play as many matches as we want, within that one day, and that counts as one contact. (But) we aren’t sure that the CCCAA is going to allow us to have three teams at the same gym. We don’t even know if we’re going to be allowed to have fans yet.”
The likelihood of fans at a game is slim with the CCCAA saying in its press release, “…fans will not be permitted until California moves into Phase 4 of its reopening plan, although once the state permits fans, districts and/or institutions may make their own decisions regarding others at their events.”
If the Conventional Plan stays in effect, the Pirates volleyball and cross country teams will begin practicing on Aug. 31 with their first competitions beginning on Sept. 11. As of now, Rasmussen and Kasimoff, have not been able to meet with their athletes and are unsure if they’ll be able to do so during the summer with PC moving all summer courses online.
“That was what I was really excited about this year, was this summer, we actually had a cross country class for summer training,” Kasimoff said Thursday. “And that’s how we were going to be able to get kids to continue training over the summer, get those student-athletes already prepared instead of hitting a start date and then two weeks later you’re going to run your first race. Takes a little bit more than two weeks to get into condition for the four miles or 5K.”
Another basic problem teams may face is a limited access to facilities for social distancing and sanitization reasons. “It’s going to be very restrictive. We haven’t been able to get on campus at all. I had to get permission to go into my office. Just because they’re keeping it safe,” Rasmussen said.
Changes for social distancing and sanitization will also affect what happens in competitions. In volleyball, Rasmussen said they are looking at no longer switching sides after each volleyball game and they will not be shaking hands. For cross country, Kasimoff said chip timing is being considered for races to decrease the number of people at finish lines.
It took California about a month to move from Stage 2 to Stage 3, so there is a chance that in a month's time the state could be in Stage 4 and keep the Conventional Plan in effect.
However, if the state remains in Stage 3, the Contact/No-Contact Plan starts. If the state regresses back to Stage 2, then the Contingency Plan goes into effect. Both plans would take another 5% off team schedules, while the Contingency Plan would create the biggest change. Cross country would keep its fall schedule but volleyball would become PC’s sixth spring sport.
With things still being decided, Rasmussen is cautioning his players, especially those from out of state, to be aware of the situation and to prepare for anything.
“I do have a couple of out-of-state kids and right now I don’t know what to tell them” Rasmussen said. “I had a conversation with one of my recruits (Monday night), and I talked to her and her parents. I said, ‘This is where we’re at. I can’t promise we’re going to get to play.’ Cause that’s still a possibility. I said, You’re going to be paying a lot of money (to move). If you don’t get to play it’s kind of a waste.’”