SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The soccer season is a go for the Lake Tahoe Community College Coyotes.
The California Community College Athletic Association on Friday, Nov. 6, reaffirmed its decision to move all sports to the winter and spring and will also not charge players with a season of eligibility during uncertain times.
The CCCAA Board of Directors had a lengthy discussion and voted to move forward with its contingency plan it originally approved in July. The contingency plan is CCCAA’s framework for a return to competition this spring while also providing decision-making guidance for institutions.
LTCC’s boys’ and girls’ soccer programs may start practicing on Jan. 18, 2021 according to the plan with the first competition being allowed a few weeks later, on Feb. 5. The end of the regular season will be April 6 with the regional playoffs starting a few days later on April 10. The end of the season will be April 17. The maximum number of games played will be 22 according to the plan.
Normally, the soccer season runs from mid-August to November, depending on how much success the teams enjoy the season could last until about Thanksgiving.
“Everything in the last six months or so has been different, so it’s not a surprise that our soccer season will be different,” said Jeremy Evans, head coach for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. “In the grand scheme of things, with people getting sick and losing jobs and losing loved ones to COVID-19, sports are unimportant. At the same time, I am relieved that a return to competition has been approved and is moving forward in California.”
The CCCAA board also requested its COVID-19 Work Group to determine opt-in/opt-out dates for schools to indicate participation for the spring while understanding that extenuating circumstances may arise that may lead institutions to opt out at a later date, said a press release.
It’s possible some schools will opt out and the schedule will be constant work in progress. Whatever make-shift Golden Valley Conference schedule Evans gets, he’s going to want to win everyone of them, but he’s more focused on keeping his players safe. His Lady Coyotes are the 3-time defending league champs and haven’t lost to a league foe in that span. They’ve made back-to-back appearances in the state semifinals and reached the title game in 2018.
“As always, both teams are planning to compete for a conference title and that will remain a goal of ours as long as I am coaching both teams,” Evans said. “But winning and losing, however, is not as important as keeping our athletes as safe as possible and making sure they are progressing toward their degrees during the 20-21 academic year.”
Starting in January at Lake Tahoe will provide challenges, most notably is how the school will keep the field clear for practice and maybe some games if the snow begins to pile up. As of now, Evans said there are no home games until the spring but he plans to practice daily and that may require the field needing to be plowed.
And the option of practicing indoors, in the gymnasium, can’t happen because it currently serves as the only full-time COVID-19 testing facility in El Dorado County. Even training, even in the middle of the day as is the plan, will likely be cold.
The CCCAA board also passed a motion to provide “student-athletes a waiver for any CCCAA competition during the 2020-21 athletic year in order to support the success, safety, and well-being of student-athletes.”
A freshman playing this winter/spring, will still be considered a freshman next fall if the seasons go back to normal. A sophomore this year would still be eligible for another year under the new rules.
“Our teams have always been gritty and tough, and there’s no doubt our players and coaches will have to be again to pull off a winter-spring season, which for Tahoe, is entirely a winter season,” Evans said. “Our school has a snow removal plan and that alone is something I am grateful for. I will ask my athletes to be flexible with access to the field because we have no idea if it will be a light or a heavy winter, we just know it will snow at some point and that will present challenges. I am extremely thankful that we have the ability to have a season at all and that our president (Jeff DeFranco) and athletic director (Steve Berry) are as supportive of the soccer program as they are.”