The spring season for University of La Verne athletics is still up in the air, though Athletic Director Scott Winterburn is hoping the Leopards can get back onto the field before the end of the academic year.
“We are staying prepared, and we want to be ready when they tell us,” Winterburn said this week. “But no matter what we decide to do this spring or next fall, we want everyone to be safe.”
As of this week, only three schools in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference are taking the steps to bring students back to campus, and hoping to return to competition for some sports.
Redlands, Cal Lutheran and Chapman have all made the decision to hold athletic competitions this spring, presuming state and county health departments don’t intervene. These three schools are the only schools in SCIAC that are not located in Los Angeles County.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer, Occidental, Whittier and Caltech – all based in Los Angeles County like La Verne – have cancelled their spring seasons, along with the entire 2020-2021 academic year sports seasons.
“In accordance with the L.A. County Department of Public Health (the Claremont Colleges) are not permitted to have students back on campus, therefore we will not be able to participate in competitive athletics,” said Erica Jasper, athletic director for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Los Angeles County currently has 29 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people as of Tuesday, which puts the county in the widespread, or purple, tier for the virus according to COVID19.ca.gov.
Some conferences across the country have opened their athletics for the spring season. The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and the American Southern Conference, two of the closest Division III conferences to the West Coast, have begun playing competitively.
Returning to play in some way does not necessarily mean playing competitive games this year. Some schools in the SCIAC are waiting to get athletes back into the facilities and on the field with coaches as soon as possible.
“We want people to be safe, but we are looking at our options,” said Rock Carter, Whittier athletic director. “If the county regulations allow for us to have small practices and weightlifting sessions with our trainers then we will do it but for now we must wait and see if regulations are able to be lessened.”
La Verne athletes are staying ready for a potential season if the schools give them the green light to practice and play this year.
“I’ve been running, hitting, working out every day to stay ready for this season,” said Adam Santa Cruz, baseball player and graduate student in teacher education. “I’m doing this not only for my team and the chance to play, but I’m also doing this for my well-being and to set an example as my coach always preaches to us.”
For now the University of La Verne is waiting for a decrease in COVID-19 cases before making any decisions about the spring season.
“We are willing to wait this out as long as it takes,” Winterburn said. “The University has made a commitment to the department and they understand what athletics means to the students, so we are trying our best to be safe and get out on the field.”
Jacob Barriga can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.