Empty fields no more: Athletes make return to campus

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Athletic fields stood empty for months while athletes waited for the OK to return to campus for practice.

Months after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the athletics program to transition to remote training for student-athletes, Delta College’s teams have been given the go-ahead to return to campus for practice.

The teams haven’t practiced face-to-face on campus since the lockdown began in March.

As of Nov. 5, athletes have been allowed to do so after a proposal from the athletics department was approved by the campus Emergency Response Team, the district administration and county officials.

Director of Athletics Tony Espinoza had been hoping for a return, but health and safety still remains a priority for him and the athletics program.

“The major topic is safety for all of our staff, coaches and athletes,” said Espinoza. “I think a lot of us are eager to return, but the topic always returns to making sure we are moving forward with safety being what guides us.”

This return to campus for the teams is very limited and must follow current guidelines from the state and county.

Each of the teams must be divided in groups which will train separately from each other at different times, and also check in with the sports medicine staff.

“All teams were divided into pods of 10 [students] with different practice times,” said Espinoza.

Prior to each training session, everyone is required to get checked for COVID-19 symptoms.

“Daily symptom and temperature checks will be completed for each student-athlete and all staff,” said Espinoza.

With sporting events canceled this fall, this limited training will allow the teams to prepare for competitions, which are slated to take place in spring. 

In the area of academics, the athletics program is also watching for information on how COVID-19 has impacted transfers for sophomores committing to higher education institutions, as well as for scholarships.

Currently the program hasn’t seen any recent information regarding either of these issues.

“No update here,” said Espinoza. “We are following updates from the NCAA and NAIA. The CCCAA COVID committee is also meeting monthly to discuss how we move forward.”