In a press release Monday, July 13, the NJCAA announced it was shifting most fall sports to the spring semester.
Based on recommendations by the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council, the NJCAA Board of Regents voted Monday to adopt the plan. The plan calls for close-contact sports to move to spring including volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer.
“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” Christopher Parker, NJCAA president, said in a press release. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”
The move left NJCAA member schools scrambling to try to sort through the logistics of the plan.
WNCC athletic director Ryan Burgner said it isn’t clear yet how this shift will affect Cougar athletics.
“Having one competitive gym floor will make it difficult as far as game scheduling,” Burgner said. “We practice on that same floor every day, normally, with volleyball and (men’s and women’s) basketball. Putting those seasons together presents a little bit of a challenge.”
Burgner, though, said Region IX schools are working together to try to work out some of those logistical issues.
“The region is working sport by sport to create a format for scheduling,” he said. “All of the member colleges are working on this because all of us are limited on facilities and limited on transportation. We are trying to really be flexible and make sure we can accommodate every sport in regards to those facilities and transportation and game management staff. It’s something we’re definitely going to have to navigate through that we really haven’t had to in the past.”
Burger said the logistical issues aren’t insurmountable.
“I don’t think it is anything we can’t overcome,” he said.
Each sport will also be allotted 60 days of organized practice in the fall leading up to the spring season, Burgner said. How those practices are scheduled will likely be an easy solution, he said.
“Obviously, baseball, softball and soccer are outside and are going to need to start practice before we start hitting cold weather,” he said. “For the indoor sports like volleyball and basketball, they may start a little later. A lot of schools are trying to end those practices at Thanksgiving. We might wait and start September 15, so they can go all the way to November 15. That way they’re still practicing up until they leave (for Thanksgiving Break). It won’ be as difficult to get into some type of playing shape.”
For WNCC’s outdoor sports, Burgner said they will have to coordinate with the high school soccer teams for use of the Landers Soccer Complex.
“I’m assuming that the high school shave their schedules set already, so we will just have to work around that,” he said.
WNCC’s Cougar Palace normally plays host to the Western Conference basketball tournament in December, which Burgner said they should still be able to accommodate that timeframe.
“The Western Trails, which is in February, might be a little more difficult,” he said. “It might require both volleyball and basketball to be on the road, and that might not necessarily happen this year.”
Burgner said all of the athletic teams’ seasons will also be shortened just a little bit because of the shortened timeframe.
In addition to fall sports, winter sports will begin in January with playoffs and championships set for March and April.
Championships for spring sports will have minor adjustments to the starting dates. Spring sports include, baseball, softball, beach volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, track and field and men’s and women’s tennis.
Championship dates could change based on the availability of facilites.
For updated information on the NJCAA’s COVID-19 response, visit www.njcaa.org/COVID19.
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