Delta cancels participation in Spring II

Mustangs softball team prepares to leave after practice at Bucky Layland Softball on April 21, 2020, in Stockton, Calif.

While Delta’s sports teams have returned to campus for practice, the Mustangs will not participate in the California Community College Athletic Association’s (CCCAA) Spring II following the athletic department’s decision to opt out of official competition on April 19.

Swimming and diving, track and field, men’s golf and beach volleyball are the sports left without a competitive season this spring, while baseball and softball will be limited to participating in scrimmages.

As one of Delta’s athletic representatives to the Big 8 Conference, baseball head coach Reed Peters affirms his team will not have a season this year.

“We won’t be playing,” said baseball head coach Reed Peters.

While other schools were able to prepare early for the Spring II season and begin competing on April 10, Delta is only a few weeks into its return to campus for teams to start practicing as San Joaquin County moved out of the purple tier on April 6.

After opting out of Spring I in December of 2020, Delta’s athletics department made the decision to opt in for Spring II on Feb. 26 seeking to give student-athletes a chance to participate in intercollegiate competition after a year of inactivity.

However, Delta later decided to opt back out as COVID-19 infection rates remained high enough to prevent the county from moving out of the purple tier sooner.

The county’s slow progression into the red tier reduced Delta’s possibilities for Spring II competition as it delayed the return to campus for student-athletes.

“The move from the purple tier to the red tier has slowed our options in regards to our overall return,” said Director of Athletics Tony Espinoza.

The initial return for training on campus is limited in terms of how much athletes can practice during the week as teams only have the option of practicing either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Moving out of the purple tier only allowed us to gradually start practicing. Twice a week this week, three times next week and four times the following week,” said Peters.

Other counties such as Sacramento and Stanislaus moved out of the purple tier earlier, allowing other schools in the Big 8 Conference including Cosumnes River, Sacramento City and Modesto Junior College to prepare for the season sooner and participate in intercollegiate competition. San Joaquin County is one of the last counties in the state to move out of the purple tier, negatively impacting the chances for the athletics department to make a sooner return and prepare for the season.

Although athletes won’t be able to participate in official CCCAA competition, scrimmages will still provide opportunities for softball and baseball players to increase their chances of committing to a four-year program. In an effort to help more athletes get signed, the CCCAA has waived Bylaw 3.3.2.A of its constitution to allow sports teams which have opted out of the organization’s contingency plan to keep and share scrimmage statistics for recruitment purposes.   

Delta is seeking to get closer to a full-scale return in the coming weeks.

As more student-athletes get cleared to practice on campus, the athletics department is focused on allowing the teams to have more practice sessions.

“If things continue to run smoothly, we hope to increase the number of days and hours we are working out on campus,” said Espinoza.

In regards to competition, Delta’s athletic director said teams could start participating in scrimmages next month with other teams that have opted out of the season.

“We are working with other ‘limited period’ schools and trying to finalize some scrimmages for early May,” said Espinoza.