With chaos surrounding us by way of a pandemic and wildfires, it is easy to put things like next season’s sports on the back-burner, but the question remains: What does the future hold for Westmont’s student athletes?
Much of the discussion about our school’s plan for reopening centers around safety protocols, move-in logistics, and online learning, but many student athletes, fans, alumni, and faculty members are curious about the status for college sports.
I had the chance to discuss Westmont’s athletic future in a time of face masks and social distancing with Sports Information Assistant, Tim Heiduk. Heiduk, a Westmont alum and former college athlete, shared his insight into the foreseeable future of our athletic department. Heiduk said, “…they want [to] give them the best experience possible as in as many games as possible and a season that is as normal as it would have been otherwise, but also while ensuring that it’s safe to do so.”
What does that look like?
Clearly, fall sports athletes are currently unable to practice since students are not yet allowed on campus. In fact, all fall sports have been pushed back to the spring. As of now, the only fall sport that has not been postponed is crosscountry, primarily because students who participate in cross-country in the fall often go on to compete in the distance events for track and field in the spring.
Westmont College is working within the confines given by the state and county government, as well as decisions made by NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and GSAC (Golden State Athletic Conference).
With the postponement of fall sports, what about the status of winter and spring sports?
Heiduk said, “As of now nothing has changed for winter and spring sports,” though that situation is obviously subject to change, depending on state and county regulations.
For now, student athletes in winter and spring sports can turn their eyes to college football, as Heiduk believes that will be a big determinant for what happens in the coming months.
In regard to new health and safety practices, Westmont is not requiring athletes to do anything new or particularly shocking. For instance, the NBA is combating health concerns by keeping their athletes in an “isolation zone” at the Walt Disney World Resort, allowing teams to continue competing. While Heiduk said the Westmont Athletics Department did discuss trying to create their own version of the NBA “bubble” for student athletes, the best protocol students can implement is simply being smart about the virus.
On the FAQ page of Westmont’s athletic department, one can find this quote: “Westmont Athletics is a community committed to cultivating maturity of mind, body and spirit through the rigorous pursuit of athletic excellence, integrated learning and Christ-centered leadership.” Never has this been more applicable than now.
Hang in there Warriors!