As the stay-in-home order continues, athletes continue to circle around the questions that are on every athlete’s and coach’s minds: if all sports events are still banned for 2020-2021, will every sport be granted another year of eligibility?
The athletic program on campus has taken off for Fall sports such as women’s volleyball and men’s soccer. Both teams had their best season’s in school history with women’s volleyball finishing at number one in the nation and men’s soccer finishing at fifth. These teams begin training for their season early August, but Governor Newsom listed the reopening of sporting events to occur at Stage 4 of the four stage process to phase out of quarantine.
National Assistant Head Coach of the Year for CSUSB’S women’s volleyball, Danny Scott, previously stated how he thinks his team will use last season as a way to motivate them for this next upcoming season.
“Everyone has a different level of what motivates them, but in terms of our team, I don’t see motivation as a problem considering we all saw how great it was. Let’s do it again,” said Scott. This was said before the stay at home order was issued, leaving student-athletes with no weight lifting, condition, or practice sessions with their teammates and coaches.
Alexis Cardoza, captain of the women’s volleyball team reminisced on the game-winning point that made CSUSB history.
“That’s the feeling we are all chasing to feel again. And I’m lucky enough to be a team that is often self-motivated to repeat everything we accomplished last year,” said Cardoza.
Cardoza, who was recently named National Volleyball Player of the Year, says what motivates her the most is her family and her CSUSB family.
“Every time I don’t want to work out or start to dread the practice gym, even in the slightest, I think of all the people around me who are constantly supporting me and I play for them,” commented Cardoza.
A typical spring season for a soon-to-be senior is filled with non-stop practice, weights, study hall and mentally preparing themselves for the next season to come. It starts with 7 a.m. weights, having back to back classes, practices in the afternoon and meeting the study hall hours and grade point average for student-athletes.
As Fall sports, volleyball and soccer use spring and summer to develop a new team without the seniors and start molding the incomers, but with the stay at home order in place, these teams are left in the dark about what is the next move going to be if there is no progress with COVID-19. With no face to face contact with teammates or coaches, some say it’s “very difficult” to stay motivated and on track to continue being successful.
Francisco Sierra, captain of the men’s soccer team, said, “What we do to keep each other accountable is to just check in with each other, have weekly meetings, making sure we’re taking care of ourselves and putting in the work in our academics and with training. I miss the human interaction with each other, learning things about each other every day, making jokes and hanging out after practices and games” said Sierra.
With the unknown date of when they can begin practices with the new members coming in, Sierra further commented, “It’s going to take some more time to build that team chemistry due to the time lost, but I feel like we can all adapt quickly once this is all over.”
The National Colligate Athletic Association (NCAA) has given student-athletes methods on how to stay motivated and on track—such as staying active, having a routine, having good time and energy management skills and stay connected with peers. This is listed on their website along with other resources students athletes can access to make sure they are maintaining good mental health during this time.
Sierra says that the COVID-19 affected him by making him bored most of the time at home, leaving him with not being able to do anything.
“I don’t like not being able to get into the gym and get a proper workout in. At the beginning of it, it was cool being home but now I just get tired of it,” says Sierra.
One of the biggest challenges athletes have been facing is maintaining the strict schedule they would have had if the school was still in session. Now with online learning and other factors coming into play, it’s easy to put off a workout or two and not get punishment from coaches. The NCAA has put a ban on all sporting events, which means no coach can force an athlete to work out or practice.
As Cardoza enters her senior year, she worries about the quality of education she is receiving through online learning.
“I am worried about being able to keep up with the heavy amount of school work and important projects that usually accompany a senior’s final semesters if everything remains online,” says Cardoza.
What the NCAA hasn’t released on its website it the question many athletes are wondering. The Spring sports of 2020 were all granted another year of eligibility, but if all sports events are still banned for 2020-2021 will every sport be granted another year of eligibility?
“It’s such a bummer, in all honesty, after playing many years of soccer I would’ve never thought that it can possibly end like that,” Sierra mentioned.
As for Cardoza, she stated, “The possibility of having my last year of eligibility taken away does scare me a bit, but if that were to happen, at the end of the day I am so thankful for all of the memories I’ve made here at CSUSB.” She is hopeful that they will be granted another year of eligibility as were athletes for Spring 2020.
Sierra commented that if given the extra year of eligibility, he would “stay motivated just by thinking about how much time I’ll have to from now to when we start playing again. That’s a lot of time to focus on me and improve my game.”
Cardoza would be unsure of the possibility of taking another year.
“There are a million different factors that I would have to take into consideration. But there is no doubt in my kind that that decision will weigh heavily on my heart for a very long time,” says Cardoza.
She explained staying motivated for that long will be challenging, but she hopes that as time goes on she will have some sort of opportunity to get back in the gym.
“And if not, physical gains in the weight room or endurance gains will have to keep me motivated through this challenging time,” added Cardoza.