The Cal Maritime athletic programs had been looking forward to the spring, but unfortunately the winter has hit many of them with a deep freeze.
On Friday, the university announced the suspension of all sports except men’s golf and men and women’s cross country for the 2021 spring season. Golf and cross country are considered ‘low-risk’ sports, according to guidance from the NCAA.
Sports such as men and women’s basketball, men and women’s soccer, rugby, sailing, men and women’s water polo and men and women’s crew are the sports suspended.
This decision comes in the wake of the surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths across the Pacific Region where the Cal Maritime intercollegiate teams were slated to compete. The university was fortunate to complete a fall semester with face-to-face classes and will continue to support the institutional mission, a news release from the school stated.
“The Department of Athletics and Physical Education will continue to make decisions based on medical advice, inclusive of our Health and Safety Task Force, local and state health guidelines, and do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our university academic mission,” Cal Maritime Athletic Director Karen Yoder told the Times-Herald in an email on Friday.
The decision was an expected one according to Tim Bross, the head coach of the men’s basketball team. Bross was hired to replace Brendan Rooney in 2020.
“This is something we’ve all known could happen for a few months now,” Bross said. “It’s disappointing, but I know the decision was thoughtfully considered and made in the best interest of the cadets and their safety.”
Despite the fact that there will be no games on the docket for the Keelhaulers this year, Bross said some things won’t change.
“My message to the team is ‘I’m still your coach. We’re still a team and we’re still going to get better and improve,” Bross said. “It’s a bummer we can’t play games against other schools, but we’re still a group of people joining together to improve every day. We’re having workouts at home and we have regular team meetings and we’re staying involved. We’re reading a book together (Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers) and that is helping us come together as well during these times.”
Women’s soccer head coach Emily Scheese talked with her squad on Friday morning.
“We kind of saw the writing on the wall ever since the number of cases were going up since the holidays,” Scheese said. “Going out to other areas to play games and then coming back to our population seemed like a real risk to take. But we’ll pivot, be agile and move on and continue to train as much as we’re allowed.”
Scheese said this year’s team, the third ever in the history of the program, has no seniors, which made the decision a little easier.
“The NAIA has been very forgiving and have allowed everyone to come back for another year,” Scheese said. “Some teams have seniors that may not want to come back, so I could see that being very difficult for those players to hear the news. Basically I’ll treat this as having another year to develop our players and have them adapt to the culture we want. It’s not ideal, I mean nothing can replace the pride of external competition, but we’ll move on.”
According to sports information director Tim Fitzgerald, the school is looking to have inter-campus competition, possibly intramurals to provide something to the cadets and the athletes that are on teams will be able to compete.
“We are committed to supporting Keelhaulers and will be unveiling an on-campus design for the cadets to engage in a variety of sports, recreation, and intramurals that will adhere to the governing guidance of the Institutions of Higher Education document and Solano County health guidelines,” a statement from Cal Maritime read.
“Our entire campus is here to support our coaches and cadet-athletes through this difficult decision,” Yoder said. “We are in the process of designing an on-campus model to compete in sports, recreation, and intramurals offerings that adhere to all governing bodies.”