When the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) announced this week that its football, soccer and women’s volleyball seasons would be postponed to the spring of 2021 in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that had a direct impact on the fall sports season at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The Panthers compete in Region III and the Mid-State Athletic Conference in men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and cross country in the fall.
“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” NJCAA president and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said in a press release. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”
The NJCAA cross country, half marathon and Division III women’s tennis championships will take place as scheduled.
In addition to fall sports being pushed back to spring, the start of winter sports season will be pushed back to January, with winter championships taking place in April instead of March. Spring sports will go on as scheduled with “minor adjustments to dates,” according to the NJCAA press release.
Athletes will still be able to practice during the fall, something Tompkins Cortland Community College athletic director Mick McDaniel said he is looking forward to.
“From the moment we ended the spring seasons back in March, we have been anxiously working on getting our student-athletes back to campus and back competing,” McDaniel said in a press release Tuesday. “And while it is disappointing that we have had to alter our schedules, we are excited that our student-athletes will be back on campus and working with their coaches and teammates this fall.”
“While many other colleges announced they were canceling all of their athletics for the fall, including practices and the opportunity to meet as a team, we wanted to do everything we could to give our student-athletes the best experience possible,” McDaniel added. “Ultimately, this change in the seasons accomplishes that. Our teams will be able to do safe workouts together in the fall, training and conditioning, building chemistry and establishing team identities. We can do this while minimizing the risks of exposure that would come with a full schedule of travel and competitions with other schools.”
The shifting of schedules will present a challenge to multi-sport athletes, as they may have to make a tough decision as to which sport to play when fall and spring sports play at the same time.
“Each year, we do have several multisport student-athletes at Tompkins Cortland Community College,” McDaniel said. “We anticipate that this year we will have a few men and several women looking to compete on multiple teams. Having all but cross country contested during the spring 2021 semester will certainly present opportunity for some high-level planning by regions and schools like TC3 to create game schedules, maximize space, staff and other resources to serve our student-athletes in the best ways possible.”
McDaniel singled out Mackenzie Constable, who played basketball, softball and golf in the same semester at TC3, as an example of how multi-sport athletes can manage their schedules.
“Having the fall semester to build strong relationships with our teams will enable us to assess where each student-athlete is at and how we can honor the wishes of multi-sport women and men as we move towards spring competition. We know it can be done through open communication involving our coaches and athletes.”