Sports teams return to on-campus practice

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After months of isolation, sports teams have been allowed to meet in limited capacities on-campus

Saddleback College athletic teams returned to practicing on campus from Oct. 19.

Teams will not be resuming normal practice, instead there are guidelines placed to conduct in-person meetings and required health-screen testing prior to returning to campus. In addition to the health-screen, students’ temperatures will be checked before each entry to campus.

“Teams will be limited on numbers of students on campus, must wear masks at all times, and stay physically distanced,” according to a Saddleback email sent to student-athletes. “You will be required to follow the directions of your coaching faculty and administration at all times.”

Health screenings are done every time someone enters campus with temperatures logged and tracked for the remainder of the semester. A COVID-19 liability release certificate must also be filled out on Mysite, which works for the entire fall semester.

After months of waiting off-campus due to the changes the coronavirus brought students across the country, many athletes were excited to have the opportunity to be back. 

“We are happy to be back on campus even though we can’t do very much right now and we are very excited to hopefully open up completely to get us ready for the regular season,” said Eric Schumann, a member of Saddleback’s baseball team.

This excitement for many teams also comes with the bonus of admiring the new Saddleback College Sports Complex. The new stadium and its amenities had its opening halted due to COVID-19.

“The Saddleback stadium complex is an incredible facility,” head football coach Mark McElroy said in an email. “It has been great to see our student-athletes and see their excitement about the new facility.”

Even though some expressed joy about returning to campus, some showed how anxiety-inducing it could be. 

“Well, I think to anyone returning to campus, it’s nerve-wracking,” a member of Saddleback’s women’s tennis team, Alexa Berg said in a text. “It’s intimidating to have the campus being monitored, your temperature taken and to have to wear a wristband to come on campus. However, I understand that it is necessary in order to return.”

Seeing success despite the coronavirus in professional sports like baseball and basketball has made the road for college sports that much more discussed. A team’s ability to resume on-campus practice could mean a lot for students like Berg, who have been undecided about their feelings to return.

“The tennis courts just got redone and they look so good, but it definitely feels odd, like we shouldn’t be there,” Berg says. “But I am excited! I missed my team and we’re excited to kick off this next season.”

While sports are not fully returning just yet, student-athletes and members of Saddleback’s athletics will finally be able to get back to their fields and courts to practice. The California Community College Athletic Association’s Contingency Plan remains moving towards fully competitive practice and sports between teams in spring 2021.