Saddleback College’s women’s soccer team prevailing through COVID-19

Saddleback College’s women’s soccer team poses for a photo. Reagan Appleby/Courtesy

Throughout 2020 there have been a lot of unknowns as to when things will go back to normal, especially in the sports world. Many sports including the Saddleback College’s women’s soccer team had to put a halt to their daily routine of practicing in person and playing games and tournaments. Due to the pandemic, countless of the normal routines the players have gotten used to over the years have been changed.

When the pandemic was first brought to light, physical on-site meetings came to a halt. Reagan Appleby, a sophomore at Saddleback and one of the players on the team, explained that the practices began to be held online via Zoom.

“During the end of spring semester we met on Zoom and would do workouts one of my coaches would lead,” Appleby said. “It was weird getting adjusted to it, but still better than nothing. Now we practice but we aren’t allowed to pass and have to stay 6 feet apart and wear a mask always.”

Appleby believes the team has made progress since COVID-19 started and she is grateful to have a coach like BJ McNicol that continues to involve the team as much as possible. She is hopeful that as the number of cases drop, they are able to do more than what they are currently doing. 

Another player, Alyssa Stapinski, has also been adjusted to this season’s changes.

“I feel that Saddleback has handled the current situation very well and has made an extra effort to ensure the safety of all the students and athletes,” Stapinski said. “Our coach did weekly Zooms with general information and workouts for us. It was something new for everyone but something necessary to connect the team and keep each other motivated during this tough time.”

They held Zoom meetings for the first eight weeks of the seasons and just recently gone back on campus last week.

“Saddleback has a lot of safety measures in place such as health screens, temperature reading and a mandatory wristband,” Stapinski said.

Stapinski shared that their goal is to continue in person practices in the safest manner possible, and is hopeful that there will be a season in the spring. 

McNicol has been outstanding in his efforts to ensure the safety of his players while continuing to keep them involved as much as possible. 

“The CCCAA [California Community College Athletic Association] has moved all Fall sports to early Spring so we are preparing for that the best we can with our fingers crossed,” McNicol said in an email. “The leadership from our Athletic Director (Randy Totorp) and Kinesiology Dean (Dan Clauss) as well as President Stern has been outstanding throughout this time. We were able to safely return to face to face training on campus last week and to see the smiles on the players faces to be together again and in our amazing new stadium was very special.”

As difficult as the  pandemic has been, his efforts along with the athletic director, kinesiology dean and President Stern are what made this season’s existence possible. He continues explaining how proud he is of his players and his hopes for the future. 

“I think our student-athletes have done a truly remarkable job pivoting to online learning at Saddleback and staying positive overall,” McNicol said. “I don’t know for certain when we’ll be out there competing as a team again, but I know when we do get that opportunity, we’ll be ready.”