The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced Tuesday that conference competition, including championships, for all fall and winter sports during the 2020-21 academic year would be cancelled.
This is a change from SCIAC’s previous plan postponing fall 2020 sports until spring 20201. The decision was made in accordance with public health guidance and safety standards, as well as the NCAA “resocialization” recommendations.
Under the updated plan, the following sports are canceled for the 2020-21: men’s and women’s soccer, men’s water polo, football, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s basketball, according to the SCIAC Presidents’ Statement on Athletics.
“We are always promised a last year, apparently our last year was the year we didn’t even know would be our last,” said Ivana Fatovic, a senior soccer player. Fatovic, a psychology major, found out from friends who were texting her wondering how she was taking the news.
“I would have rather had someone face to face tell me it was cancelled rather than a text message,” she said. “But due to COVID I guess it’s hard with everyone’s schedules.”
Fatovic said that she and her teammates took the news hard.
“It was really heartbreaking,” she said. “My teammates and I compare it to like we just got broken up with, we got our hearts broken,” Fatovic said. “Soccer got stripped from us, it’s kind of our identity.”
Fatovic said that she still feels fortunate.
“I’m one of the lucky seniors that is most likely able to come back, when I have three other teammates that I’ve been with since day one as a freshman that are most likely not going to be coming back,” Fatovic said. “The worst part is that we were getting our hopes up because other states are opening up, and Division I and Division II schools are playing,” Fatovic said.
Fatovic said that when fall sports were initially postponed to spring, some senior athletes had extended their schedules in hopes of being able to play one last season.
“A lot of us were due to graduate in fall or January, and they extended their schedules to put classes in the spring so they could play in the spring. Finding this out they thought to themselves ‘man I should have just kept my regular schedule,’” Fatovic said.
Fatovic said that she feels bad for her teammates who she cannot be with right now during this hard time. She especially feels bad for the freshman who have not been able to experience what it feels like to be a college athlete.
“Two of my close friends on the team who are also seniors, said that they have no words. They told me they don’t want to talk right now,” Fatovic said.
Fatovic said that her coach is also taking the news hard, but is really supportive of the team. She said that she knows her coach is doing the best she can.
“We’ve been with her since day one and she’s helped us grow and all of a sudden she has to tell us that our season is over and she can’t spend the last year with us,” Fatovic said.
“Only in darkness can you see the stars” was a recent quote from Fatovic’s coach. “For her it doesn’t diminish, but it can help choose what we see and focus on in this time. Keep looking for and finding those stars,” Fatovic said.
Toni Salazar, senior member of the women’s soccer team, is one of the seniors who would not be returning next year. She said that being prevented from doing something that she has done her whole life has been heartbreaking. Salazar said the fact that the situation was out of her control made it hurt even more.
“The past two days have been rough knowing I didn’t get my last game on the field, my senior goodbyes, my senior walk. My parents didn’t get to see my last game,” Salazar said. “Usually as a senior you know your last game is coming and it’s a bittersweet moment.”
Salazar had also changed her schedule in hopes of playing her final season in spring 2021.
“I know for a lot of us it was super hard having to change our whole schedule around just for the hope of playing next semester,” Salazar, business administration major, said.
Scott Winterburn, ULV athletic director, said that this decision had been deliberated for a long time in conjunction with the presidents of all the schools in SCIAC.
He said that the recent number of COVID-19 cases across the world, the country and all the California counties that make up SCIAC was the reason this decision was made.
He said the safety of the student athletes had to be the first priority.
“I’m definitely not an expert on the coronavirus,” Winterburn said. “I’m not a doctor. The best thing that we can do at this time is follow the signs and take the recommendations from the people that are giving them, and trust it because it looks like that’s been correct the whole way,” Winterburn said.
As for the future of spring 2021 sports, Winterburn said that they are still hoping to have some semblance of a season.
“Right now we are focused on a schedule for spring sports, making it as deep in the spring semester as we can,” Winterburn said.
Sebastian Ibarra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.