After opting out of the Spring 1 season at the end of 2020, Fullerton College decided to officially opt into the Spring 2 season for the California Community College Athletic Association on Thursday.
Scott Giles, Fullerton College’s director of athletics explained that the current situation with COVID-19 and the decreasing number of new cases each day are much safer than the health conditions prior to the Spring 1 season.
“In December, when we were finalizing our decision [to opt out of Spring 1], there was a significant spike in the number of COVID cases around the United States—a huge spike,” Giles said.
The spike in cases shut down the college’s on campus conditioning sessions for student-athletes, and clearly, it was not a safe time to interact with student-athletes and staff from other schools.
“As we got through January and into February, we saw a significant decrease in the number of cases in Orange County, throughout the state of California and throughout the nation, largely due to people social distancing and wearing masks. We felt because the numbers [of COVID cases] were trending downward, our student-athletes could return to campus safely,” Giles added.
Personal responsibility has and will continue to be an integral part of keeping student-athletes safe and on campus.
Like any other student who comes to campus, student-athletes will be required to fill out the COVID-19 questionnaire on the Fullerton College app.
The athletic staff and coaches stress to the student-athletes the importance of social responsibility at home, at work, and in their daily lives. Maintaining social distance and wearing masks when necessary off-campus are important steps for student-athletes to take in order to ensure everyone’s safety
In addition to the questionnaire, student-athletes will receive a temperature check and take a COVID-19 test.
Originally, Giles thought that there would be a significant financial issue that would make it challenging to afford COVID-19 testing for athletic personnel on a regular basis.
However, with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act money from the state of California, Fullerton College can afford to provide COVID-19 testing in order to ensure the safety of everyone in the athletic department.
The biggest challenge in preparing for the Spring 2 season has been working out the contract with the COVID-19 vendor who will administer testing.
“We’re so close to getting that contract approved [by the NOCCCD Board of Trustees]. Getting an outside vendor to come in and test our student-athletes, coaches, and personnel has been the biggest challenge,” Giles said.
Once the district ensures that all liability issues are settled, the contract should be approved in time for the start of practices on Mar. 27.
For the Spring 2 season, Fullerton College will compete in Baseball, Women’s Beach Volleyball, Softball, Swim and Dive, Tennis, Track and Field, and Men’s Volleyball.
Women’s Lacrosse will compete as a club team, however, it is not a CCCAA sponsored sport.
All but one of these sports—Men’s Volleyball—are played outdoors.
“Men’s Volleyball will be in the gym. They’re considered a high-risk sport because of being inside and the nature of the game,” Giles added.
Fans will not be allowed in person at any sporting event during the Spring 2 season. Only the teams, administrative personnel and support staff will be allowed.
The first date of competition for any sport is Apr. 10.
The director of athletics commended the campus and district leadership for their support.
“Our administration here on this campus has been very supportive. They’ve listened to us and they’re working with us. We’re very fortunate to have such great leadership and have a campus and district that supports athletics,” Giles said.
Opting to play sports this spring is a sign of hope that at some point, the campus will return to some sort of normalcy.
“When athletics start to come back, things are on the right track,” Giles remarked. “We’re starting to go in the right direction of getting the whole student body back on campus.”