The Blue Ridge and Silverado fires have burned more than 25,000 acres combined in Orange County. The Blue Ridge fire is still burning between Chino Hills and Yorba Linda and is 80% contained at the time of writing according to Cal Fire. The Silverado fire is also still burning in the hills near Irvine and is 82% contained at the time of writing.
These fires have impacted everyone in the area but it also hurt Fullerton College athletics practices.
Fullerton College recently allowed all of their sports teams to begin practicing on campus again starting Wednesday Oct. 21.
All the teams were ready to go when they were hit with smoky weather conditions and this made it difficult for the outdoor sports teams to practice.
“The fire has made running in this weather very difficult … Athletes with pulmonary issues are impacted because of the bad weather conditions. Nothing is to be gained when you cannot breathe in this awful weather,” Fullerton College women’s track and field head coach Gina Bevec said.
Some residents that live near the fire were told to evacuate from their homes. Bevec was one of those residents that had to be evacuated from her house. “Personally, I was evacuated from my home when the fires broke out on Monday. I have returned safely, and my house was not affected,” Bevec added.
Fullerton College head softball coach, Marian Mendoza, said her team still met on Zoom due to practices not happening. “Our softball team has been meeting every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 a.m. on Zoom, but because of the fires happening we decided to give the girls a week off of conditioning due to the air quality,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza has tried make sure her players are okay during these times. “As a coach and staff, our number one priority is making sure each student-athlete and their families are safe during this time. We make sure to do a daily check-ins either by Zoom, phone calls or text,” she added.
Fullerton College’s head baseball coach, Chad Baum, talked about how he tried to take care of his players or any other athletes during the fires. “We are definitely trying to keep our players safe … We have a few players that live close to the fires and we are doing our best to make sure they are safe along with their family,” Baum said.
As of now, a lot of outdoor practices had been cancelled due to both the Silverado and the Blue Ridge fire. These coaches are going to continue doing their best to support their players during these unpredictable times.
The positive thing for athletics is now the fires are almost contained and the air quality will be better for the foreseeable future.
Although it was yet another obstacle that athletics had to go to on top of trying to stay safe during a pandemic, the coaches and student-athletes have continued to push on, no matter what 2020 throws their way.