With the 2020-21 season at a complete stop the Delta College athletics program must adjust to the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the virus continues to rage across California, Delta College Athletics Director Tony Espinoza highlights the importance of unison to keep the program going during these changes.
“We are really pushing the ‘stronger together’ approach with our staff and student athletes. We want them to know that we are in this together and we are here to support them through this difficult time,” said Espinoza in a response via email.
“With athletics you are constantly dealing with adversity, so this is another challenge we need to overcome and I think our veteran coaching staff and athletic staff have done a great job through a very difficult time.”
To continue working through the pandemic, Delta’s athletic program has made some changes to support current student athletes, coaching staff and new recruits coming in from high school to join.
Right now, student athletes are continuing their training routines remotely through online conditioning classes.
“Our athletes are enrolled and are completing their sport-specific workouts remotely ” said Espinoza, referring to how the students are staying in shape with conditioning courses tailored to the sports they play.
Apart from supporting current students at Delta, the department is also helping incorporate new students from high school.
Instead of practicing with the teams as usual, incoming freshmen will have to join the program remotely and do their training while separated from their new teammates.
“All new recruits are included in the conditioning classes and the off-season classes,” said Espinoza. “It’s a different introduction to Delta, but I think our coaches are doing a great job at getting them settled in.”
Espinoza and the staff in the athletics department remain optimistic about when teams can return to their usual practice sessions with social distancing rules in place.
“The hope is that we can safely return at some point in the fall or early spring. We will know more in the next few weeks,” said Espinoza.
On July 9, the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) posted a news release on its website stating the implementation of a contingency plan. However, due to the slowing of California’s reopening process the plan could not go forward, and the organization instead moved fall sports to the spring.
“I know I speak for the entire CCCAA Board that moving Fall athletics to Spring 2021 is a huge disappointment,” said Dr. Erika Endrijonas, CCCAA board chair and president of Pasadena City College in the release explaining the decision. “However, the need to keep our student-athletes and the amazing coaches and athletic trainers who work with them safe was simply the only option available with the virus spiraling out of control across the state.”
This will fill the spring schedule even more, and Delta Athletics will have much to plan for.
“Coaches, staff and student athletes are staying positive and preparing for what potentially could be a busy spring,” said Espinoza.
The pandemic is causing uncertainty both on and off the field.
It’s still unknown how the crisis might affect athletic scholarships for the students.
“That is to be determined. A lot depends on how things play out in the spring,” said Espinoza.
Even with these changes, Espinoza himself has kept up in doing his part as the program’s athletic director.
“For the most part it’s business as usual. Still working on class scheduling, team schedules, keeping up with CCCAA updates, working with staff for a possible spring start-up and keeping up with facilities.”