Next spring is going to be an extra busy sports season for Southwestern Oregon Community College and the rest of the NWAC schools since the conference delayed all fall sports except cross country and golf in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Cross country and golf will be held in the fall, with reduced seasons. But men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball both have been moved to the spring.
In addition, the men’s and women’s basketball season also will be pushed back, with the championship in May instead of March.
That, of course, is provided the virus is relatively in check and sports can be held next year.
SWOCC athletic director Mike Herbert said moving soccer and volleyball is better than the alternative of not having those sports at all for a year.
“It’s better to do something than nothing,” Herbert said. “And there’s still not a guarantee we’re not going to do nothing.
“We are staying optimistic.”
NWAC announced the change last week in a release on its website. The conference also gave guidelines for the return to sports.
All sports will have a phased-in approach to practice, starting with the red phase, when practices are limited to groups of less than 10. Groups can move up in size during the yellow phase, though without vulnerable population. Finally, scrimmages and games can begin in the green phase.
For basketball, the red phase won’t begin until Jan. 16 (practice usually starts the first day of school in September), with the yellow phase starting Jan. 30 and the first date for games in the green phase being Feb. 13.
For men’s and women’s soccer, the red phase begins Feb. 3, followed by the yellow phase Feb. 17 and the green phase March 3.
For baseball and softball, the red phase starts Feb. 13, the yellow phase Feb. 27 and the green phase March 13.
And for volleyball, the red phase starts Feb. 27, with the yellow phase March 13 and the green phase March 27.
The basketball championships will be May 14-16, with softball set for May 21-23, baseball May 27-31 and volleyball and soccer June 4-6.
The track and field and spring golf seasons will be similar to past years, with the track championships May 24-25 and the golf championships May 16-17.
Two other SWOCC sports, wrestling and swimming, are under the jurisdiction of a different governing body, the NJCAA. Herbert said he expected to learn more about those sports Monday afternoon (information wasn’t available by deadline), but that early indications were wrestling would be pushed further back into winter than normal and swimming would switch from a winter to a spring sport.
Athletes will still be able to do some preparation for their sports out of season, through weight training and PE classes, he said.
A big key will be keeping athletes safe and monitoring constantly.
“We are going to get really adept at using thermometers,” Herbert said.
He added that SWOCC’s volleyball and soccer coaches were relieved to finally have a plan in place.
Original discussions had been to push back the start dates to late August, but as the number of COVID-19 cases started to rise and other conferences started moving sports seasons, NWAC switch course, Herbert said.
“It made sense to postpone everybody as opposed to just canceling,” he said.
The soccer coaches actually expressed an appreciation to having their sport in the spring, when the weather is good, Herbert said.
“I think they are also grateful that we didn’t cancel, based on (what happened to baseball), softball and track. They watched that last year.”