BEEVILLE – The fall sports landscape in Bee County will be devoid of collegiate athletics thanks to a decision handed down by the National Junior College Athletic Association last week.
The NJCAA, of which Coastal Bend College is a member, released its official plan of action regarding athletics in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic early last week.
That plan includes the shifting of football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to the spring of 2021.
Coastal Bend’s volleyball team will be permitted to start games no earlier than Jan. 29, while the men’s soccer season can begin no earlier than March 15.
Paul Cantrell, the school’s athletic director and volleyball coach, said the announcement was good news.
“I thought it was the first real optimistic piece of news that we had got in awhile,” he said. “I think it is the best possible scenario for the well-being of our student-athletes, our coaches and our community.”
The rest of the coaching staff at the college felt the same way, he noted.
“We were hanging on for any piece of good news, and I think everybody sees this is a very good piece of news.”
It was particularly good for the men’s soccer team, which was facing significant obstacles because of its largely international roster.
“We were facing some really significant issues,” Cantrell noted, “because of the immigration executive orders that are currently in place.”
The NJCAA’s plan will present plenty of logistical challenges, but Cantrell said the other athletic directors in the region have already vowed to work together to help solve those issues.
“I think the region as a whole is dedicated to trying to work everything out as logistically simple as it can,” he said.
“We will work diligently to manage all of this. There’s going to be some challenges, but I think it’s what we need to do in a responsible way for this season.”
On campus, one of the biggest hurdles facing Cantrell will be the use of the college’s gymnasium inside the Peter S. Marecek Physical Fitness Center.
Under the NJCAA’s plan, volleyball season will now overlap both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons.
“We’re going to have to be accommodating with gym space,” Cantrell said. “Somebody is going to have to practice at zero dark thirty.”
Transportation will also be a concern with all six of the school’s athletic teams being in season at the same time.
“We’re going to have to make sure that, from a transportation standpoint, we’re not overwhelming what we are able to do here at Coastal Bend College,” Cantrell said.
“We are taking all those logistical conversations and trying to work them out.”
Cantrell said he welcomes those challenges, though, because it means the school’s student-athletes will get to have a season.
The same can’t be said for athletes at schools like Laredo College, Lee College and Angelina College, which cancelled all athletics for the 2020-21 school year.
That idea, Cantrell said, was on the table for CBC as well.
“Everything has been on the table and discussed at one point or another by our administration,” he said.
Thankfully, Cantrell said, there’s a plan in place, although he admits that the plan could change drastically in the coming months.
“As we’ve seen, these plans have changed on seemingly an hourly basis,” he said.
“For the first time in probably three weeks, I am optimistic about the fact that the student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the 2020-21 season.”