The state of the women’s soccer team at Saddleback College

BJ McNicol/Courtesy

The women’s soccer team at Saddleback College anticipates two scrimmages and an entire competitive season in the fall

The women’s soccer team at Saddleback had to cancel their season during the COVID-19 pandemic. These athletes had to adapt to many changes like holding workouts over Zoom, which was not ideal, but they had to keep progress throughout the semester.

Now, in 2021, with the progression of trying to get past these hard times, for example, getting the vaccine shot, is a step ahead of getting sports, in this case, the women’s soccer team on the field and practicing. The team is waiting in anticipation for the upcoming season, and they are preparing for the best outcome by continuing conditioning. Isabella Zanki, a sophomore at Saddleback College and one of the former players on the team, elaborated a bit on what is currently going on.

“We practiced in October for a little, and then we started again in March, but we have to wear masks at all times and always stay 6 feet apart,” Zanki said. We can’t share balls or any equipment and we were split into two groups for practice.”

Although the players could not train as hard as they usually do, it taught them to be more self-disciplined. Connecting with their teammates was challenging due to social distancing, but they had no choice other than to practice and conditioning independently.

The team is persevering through this time by adapting from online to practicing in person with minimal contact. The state of the women’s soccer team remains hopeful that everything will go back to normal.

Leslie Salgado, a sophomore on the team, reminds people of how amazing the head coach BJ McNicol is and how he stays connected with the team.

“Coach BJ is a great coach, he has helped me not only on the field, but he prioritizes school first and makes sure we are all doing well in our classes, and he has helped me push myself on the field,” Salgado said.

The season’s cancellation was unfortunate because the team wanted to use the new stadium and new facilities. But McNicol has some input in what they are doing now.

“We’ve been practicing to some degree most of the spring semester,” he said. “We started in a fitness only mode with no balls and everyone with masks and socially distant for everything we did. We have been able to progress using shared equipment which for us is the use of the ball, and that has been great.”

News of the team being able to share equipment and getting tome touches on the ball is a step in the right direction.

“Spring 2021 things have continually moved in the right direction to allow us to get back together and compete, but we will likely use Zoom and other online forms of communication for the foreseeable future,” McNicol said. “Our team thrives on being together doing what we love so we are very grateful for the chance to train every day and will never take it for granted.”

McNicol weighed in on the potentiality of playing in the near future. Any sign of playing any type of soccer is amazing news for the women’s team.

“Starting this week, we have been approved to begin practicing to get ready for two CCCAA (California Community College Athletic Association) approved scrimmages in the next couple weeks,” McNicol said. “We still wear masks and keep our distance and now will be required to do daily antigen testing to be able to compete in the scrimmages coming. The CCCAA has announced that they are planning on having a pretty normal Fall season of competition in 2021 so we are very hopeful that the cases continue to drop and we get a chance to showcase our student-athletes again.”

If everything goes according to plan, the women’s soccer team could potentially be on their way to playing two scrimmages, which is a huge silver lining during this time, as well as the plan to have a normal fall season of competition in 2021.

Editors note: Reporting done by Kenny Pizano.