MIAMI, Ok. — Things will look very different this fall for NJCAA athletes and coaches.
No games, no fans and no athletes taking the field or the court. That’s the new reality NJCAA schools across the country will be facing this fall.
“You could kind of see the writing on the wall, so to speak,” said NEO A&M head women’s soccer coach Lisa Bell.
Despite the major changes, Bell is choosing to focus on the positive, because believe it or not, there are some advantages to delaying the season.
“It’s completely new territory, but it’s completely new territory for everybody,” said Bell. “So, this will give us an opportunity once we get to campus to make sure we are in shape and ready for the spring. So, I hate to say I’m excited about it. But it’ll be a good change, or a different change that could end up turning out well for us, we’ll see.”
Sophomore forward for the Lady Norse women’s soccer team Seyton Thomas shares the same mentality as her coach, and is embracing the change.
“I think it is something that we will just have to adjust to,” said Thomas. “I think it’s a great opportunity to really get to know our new girls and be able to build that bond before the season starts and I really think we can pull more positives out of this than negatives.”
But, there are still some challenges coaches are trying to work through, especially when it comes to international students.
“As of three weeks ago, I thought we weren’t going to have any of them make it here this fall,” said NEO A&M head men’s soccer coach John Parrigon. “We’ve had several European players that didn’t think they were going to be here until January, and now they are going to be here. We have a couple Brazilian players that are still kind of iffy if they’re going to be able to be here or not.”
While they hope is that they will have a season, albeit in the spring, it will all depend on the progress that’s been made in containing COVID-19.
“People aren’t going to be able to do anything in the spring or later on if we can’t do our part,” said Thomas.
Under the NJCAA plan, sports originally scheduled for the fall and winter will be able to participate in limited practice and external scrimmages during the fall semester, while spring seasons will have a cap on the number of games allowed for each sport.