Contributed by CSUB Athletics
The Western Athletic Conference had come to a decision that all spring sports this year are cancelled indefinitely. The decision put an abrupt end to CSUB baseball, softball, beach volleyball, women’s golf, and track and field for the remainder of the spring season. While some CSUB athletes were at least able to start their seasons, others were not so fortunate.
CSUB track and field had just gotten started with their outdoor 2020 season in the Beach Opener on March 6 before the season was suspended during the WAC basketball championships in Las Vegas a week later.
Track and field Director Marcia Mansur-Wentworth said the team was very disappointed with the shutdown of the 2020 season, but she was not surprised in the decision to suspend the season. “I saw this coming from the NCAA because it was the right thing to do.”
With the looming threat of the new coronavirus, large groupings of people are now suspended because of the possibility of contamination. Sporting events, like track and field competitions, or even individual training sessions, are currently unavailable in order to protect the health of the fans, the coaches, and the athletes competing.
Mansur realizes that coaches are “programmed like athletes,” and would want to see how this situation progresses before ending an early season, but she says the staff agrees with the decision to cancel the spring season.
Although it is not the easiest decision to deal with, Mansur says the coaching staff realizes that they “need to be good role models for our student athletes,” and to end any individual training sessions because that is what is best for the health of their athletes.
The team plans to take this off year as a “training year” to help their athletes recover from injuries and prepare for training to start back up again once the NCAA conference decides to lift this suspension of activities.
Beach volleyball was another spring sport affected by the shutdown, as the team was on the brink of their best start in their last four years under head coach Cesar Benatti. With an overall record of 6-3 and a 4-0 record at home before the shut down on March 12, the team was building solid momentum that will now inevitably be halted.
Benatti said that the team was disappointed with the season’s abrupt end, but understood the gravity of the situation. He says that the team has put a hold on training on the sand, but he will still contact them to make sure they are staying in shape on their own and working on their “mindset.”
The mindset that the volleyball team has been implementing all year during both their indoor and beach seasons is, in a sense, a “no complaining rule.” Benatti stated that it is an idea adopted by the coaching staff after they found the rule during some offseason reading. The rule is all about keeping a positive mindset in any kind of situation.
“Even in struggling situations, see the positive side, build some mental strength on that. Communication, relationships, all of those things that are intangible that we were training and talked to them a lot about it, and they are doing a great job about that.”
Like Mansur, Benatti agrees that the WAC’s move to cancel the 2020 spring season was the right move to make in order to protect the health of the athletes. Both said that just because their seasons will not continue and some athletes may have returned home, that does not mean they are not in contact with them.
The coaches and athletic department staff are in constant contact with the student athletes, and some and are constantly offering their full support to each of the student athletes during these difficult times.
A big question for some senior athletes going forward is what happens to their final year of eligibility. CSUB Athletics Director Dr. Kenneth ‘Ziggy’ Siegfried assures eligibly relief is coming in some way for those athletes in spring sports who are affected by this.
“What we don’t know at this point is how they will handle the number of scholarships allowed for each team and any type of funding assistance,” Siegfried said.
The NCAA Division I Coordination Committee has already released a news statement which confirms Siegfried’s comments. Committee members stated in the release that members “agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports.” The NCAA council is scheduled to meet on March 30, where they will discuss this relief plan further and take a final vote.
“The advice we’ve given is; things are changing consistently, but we want them to put their focus on academics and make sure they finish the semester strong,” Siegfried stated. “Our message has been let’s continue to adjust to these changes but let’s make sure we prioritize academics and their health and safety.”
Although there are plenty of things to be disappointed about with the loss of spring sports this season, the entire CSUB athletics staff believes there is always room to make a positive in any situation. Ultimately, CSUB sports will have to cut their final chapter in the WAC shorter than expected, and are preparing to move on to their new home in the Big West Conference.