In a statement released by Jim Donovan, the Cal State Fullerton director of athletics, there has been a revised plan set in place that will allow athletes to return to campus in order to finish the fall semester of sports. Though all the details are still being worked out, as of now, athletes can make their way back to campus to prepare for their upcoming postponed season.
In a joint collaboration with the governor's Office of California, the Orange County Department of Public Health, the CSU chancellor's office, President Fram Virjee and the CSUF campus, Titan Athletics formulated a re-entry plan that will allow student athletes to voluntarily return to campus beginning Oct. 5 for its second phase, which consists of two weeks of strictly strength and conditioning work.
The athletes will be closely monitored due to the ongoing pandemic and both players and staff will be tested to ensure the safety of others.
This new re-entry plan is organized into six phases, with specific rules of engagement coordinated with each phase. Only one team can train at a time, and will be limited to one hour per day. As the process is underway, various sports will be contacted to make sure that proper guidelines and protocols are being followed, the plan will be updated with new information as it moves forward.
"I am very grateful and appreciative of all the hard work that our department and the campus have put in to make this return possible," Donovan said. "Obviously, the work continues and we have to be diligent every single day going forward to keep our athletes and staff as safe as possible. Hopefully, we will continue to progress through these phases and ultimately be able to compete against other universities in the near future."
The new plan will consist of the amount of time each sport will get on campus, the total number of players and staff who can be on campus at the same time and the amount of hours dedicated to strength and conditioning.
This semester, coaches and staff have a total of 1,908 hours on campus, while student athletes have 22,499 hours. This is an 85.3% hour reduction from coaches and staff and a 42.8% from athletes from the fall of 2019.
Titan Athletics will work closely with the Big West conference to honor membership-related commitments or contractual obligations in accordance with the new COVID-19 guidelines. Further, the athletics department will continue to work closely with campus Title IX coordinator to ensure gender equality.
For the department, returning to campus is favorable, but they have to abide by rules and regulations set in place.
Guidelines and core principals are set for voluntary staff and returning athletes to ensure everyone’s safety, such as social distancing, sanitization and disinfection of high-traffic areas, protective equipment and temperature checks with testing and isolating when applicable.
Women’s volleyball head coach Ashley Preston said she thinks it is great that the campus is reopening for sports, but the time away requires time to refocus.
“What I expect from my team is that my focus is the health and well-being of my student athletes, and what I mean by that is their mental health and their physical health. Because you know they have been off for a while and right now my main focus is strength and conditioning and then strength and conditioning that brain in between their ears as well,” Preston said.
For athletes like junior men's soccer defender Edward Salazar, returning to school is exciting and he can’t wait to be able to see and play with his team once again.
“It’s going to be exciting. We have a lot of good pieces coming back and we didn’t really recruit a lot of people, but a couple keepers and maybe one or two freshmen. I’m excited and our team is looking good. Last year we did well so this year will probably be a little more special,” Salazar said.
While CSUF gets ready for fall sports to have a late restart season, this is going to be a time during the pandemic that college athletes and staff will get a chance to prove what they have worked so hard for: playing and enjoying the sport they love.