The Cosumnes River College athletic department released new safety guidelines for student athletes and athletic staff who will participate in the return of on-ground sports games this fall semester.
Colin Pregliasco, the dean of kinesiology, health and athletics and athletics director, said the athletic department has been developing a plan to safely return to sports and inter-club competition for over a year.
Pregliasco explained there would be general safety guidelines for student athletes, coaches and staff, but there would also be specific guidelines for outdoor and indoor sports games.
“Three to five days before they come onto campus they have to have a negative baseline covid test,” Pregliasco said. “Once they have that first test, all unvaccinated student athletes have to test weekly and have to continue to test weekly in order to attend practice.”
Vaccinated athletes and staff no longer have to test after the first negative COVID test, he said.
Coaches and athletic staff will be held to the same standard as student athletes, and will have to test 72 hours before a competition if they are unvaccinated.
Pregliasco also said the athletes will be able to upload their testing and vaccination status to the Athletic Training System website.
“We have been tracking through our electronic medical system called ATS,” Pregliasco said. “If they’ve uploaded their physicals, we can see if they’ve also uploaded their vaccinations.”
Pregliasco said ATS allows the department to be on top of who’s vaccinated and unvaccinated.
“We have to track this weekly to know who’s on campus, who’s tested and who didn’t test,” Pregliasco said. “If they didn’t test, they’re not allowed to be on campus until we get that test with a negative.”
Outdoor and indoor sports games guidelines will be different in the fall semester.
Pregliasco said the department chose to keep the mask mandate in place for indoor games and require everyone inside to be masked except for those engaged in athletic activity.
“The only people not masked in a gym are the 10 individuals out on the floor playing,” Pregliasco said.
Social distancing will be required for the table staff during indoor sports games.
Masking and social distancing during outdoor sports games is strongly recommended for everyone, but it is not a requirement.
“Outdoors we will encourage masking and try to do it as best as we can,” Pregliasco said. “Obviously it’s a little easier since we’re outdoors and not as worried about the exposure.”
Pregliasco said fans will not be allowed to attend during indoor sports games.
“The only exception that I believe we’ve asked for is similar to what we did in the spring for baseball,” Pregliasco said. “Ensuring college athletes still have the opportunity for transfer by allowing four-year coaches to attend and we can verify vaccination after Oct. 1 if necessary or at least ensure masking for these individuals.”
Pregliasco also said the previous guidelines for the length of games that were implemented during last spring semester have changed.
“This year because of the slight differences, the organization and the more understanding, the California Community College Athletic Association came out and said we were playing full schedules, we’re playing full games and having full conference schedules,” Pregliasco said. “Last year we didn’t play inside our conference, we only played inside our district so now we are full schedule, full travel.”
Elizabeth Enuk, head coach for the women’s swim team, said she is happy the new safety guidelines will allow her team to get back to training and back in the pool.
“As long as the college has the interest of safety in mind, which they do, and it allows us to resume athletics as close to normal as possible then I am willing to participate in whatever safety guidelines are expected of us,” Enuk said.
Enuk said the guidelines are strict, however she has no concerns about them.
“I think there are stringent guidelines,” Enuk said. “But it’s also gonna let us get back to regular practices, we’re able to get back into the weight room and we’re gonna be back in the water so the guidelines are allowing us to train and that’s a big deal because we haven’t been able to train the way we need to since March of last year.”
Enuk said when she notified her team of the new safety guidelines, there were mixed feelings about the vaccine mandate.
“When all the guidelines came out for athletics, especially the vaccine mandate, I notified my team and let them all know what the guidelines were and everyone has different feelings about the vaccine, but, I did not lose an athlete to the safety guidelines,” Enuk said. “All the athletes that had committed to me prior to the guidelines being put in place are still participating in athletics.”
Enuk noted that it wasn’t an easy choice, but as college athletes, players had to take into consideration their future opportunities.
Enuk said the thing she is most happy for, going back to on-ground sports, is just being able to have something to train and work hard for.
“We went back in the spring of this year and we were on limited athletic opportunity, so there was no competition and nothing to train for,” Enuk said. “This year, we can have some goals we can set in place. We can have that motivation factor, we can train for a meet that’s coming up this month.”
Ryan Speer, a 19-year-old kinesiology major and CRC baseball player, said he was relieved by the athletic department being able to accommodate for COVID and allow student athletes to begin playing in the fall again.
“It was really tough last year waiting until spring to get on campus, so I’m really happy there’s guidelines that allow us to play during the fall and continue until our spring season,” Speer said.
Speer said he’s been vaccinated, however, his only concern towards the guidelines was the vaccination requirement.
“I think you should get the vaccine because it makes everyone healthier, but I also don’t think it should be forced on people because there’s people who don’t necessarily want to get it for reasons such as religious and health issues,” Speer said.
Following the announcement that fans will not be allowed to attend indoor sports games, Speer said the athletic department should try to accommodate fans.
“I think it’s a hard decision and no fans is better than not being able to play, so I guess as long as the athletes are able to play,” Speer said. “It feels really weird, it’s a different feeling playing in front of no fans and no energy.”
Despite this, Speer said he is most excited about returning to playing during the fall and being able to spend the entire year with teammates.
“I am most excited to have a full fall and spend an entire year with my teammates to get better and actually have a chance to play a full season this year and possibly win a state championship,” Speer said.
Evan Reece, a 20-year-old history major and also a CRC baseball player, said when the guidelines came out he didn’t have any concerns about the level of safety. He’s had COVID before and it didn’t affect him, however, he was concerned about the vaccination requirement.
“I wasn’t planning on getting it, my work was going to make me get it and I was going to work my way around it, but once the school required it I realized I had to get it because I really do want to play baseball,” he said.
He said some of his teammates resisted getting vaccinated at first, but eventually did.
Reece said he hasn’t played baseball in almost two years, that being the longest he’s gone without playing, so being able to come out and play with his teammates again is what he’s most excited for with returning this semester.
“I just really wanna play, I really wanna get started,” Reece said.