In any other year we would be writing about our fall teams gearing up for the playoffs, but of course nature had other plans. As athletic programs from the NCAA’s Division 1 trudge through their seasons and the WIAA unveiled its reopening plans, sports enthusiasts can only then look to the amateur level, and for some of our more savvy fans, at the Junior College level.
Following NWAC guidelines established back in August, sports including volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer had their seasons pushed to the winter quarter, with Jan. 2 being the kickoff date. Men’s and women’s golf were the only BC squads that competed this fall. Their seasons ended on Oct. 23, having played only eight matches altogether. This was all summed up from an email exchange with Bellevue College Athletic Director Jeremy Eggers.
“We will have days with multiple home matches and games,” said the former basketball coach. “And we will do our best scheduling them at opposite times and filling out game crews.”
According to NWAC protocols, each sport will be on a timeline to slowly come back to competition. It will be broken up into a five-part plan that includes contact tracing, testing and PPE access for athletes and staff. The best-case outcome would have teams in the “blue scenario,” meaning they would have regular-style games with fans in attendance. This seems unlikely given question marks surrounding testing and the growing anxiety around the race to make vaccines that are both safe and widely available. Teams are projected to host practices and games by mid-February. Since each features a schedule that is 20 percent shorter than usual, the season will be decided by the top two teams squaring off in the championship. These events will have an emphasis on social distancing.
There are some within the broader sports discourse who are skeptical about the virus’ effect on the health of young athletes. Since sports like soccer and volleyball are played in close contact, there are concerns about games being potential vectors for the virus. Conference protocols are comprehensive enough to serve a stopgap for possible outbreaks.