Taylor Pilot

Guard Taylor Pilot driving into the paint in a game against San Francisco State on February 15, 2020. (Signal Photo/Randel Montenegro)

Over the past year, COVID-19 restrictions have presented hurdles for individuals, businesses, schools and organizations alike, including the Stan State athletics department.

With the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announcing a cancellation of all competition for the entirety of the 2020-21 academic year and with a campus travel ban being in place at Stan State for the majority of the past year, Stan State athletic teams have had to face a number of challenges, such as keeping student-athletes enrolled at Stan State and having to scout potential recruits remotely.

In terms of the cancellation of athletic competitions in the CCAA, Warrior athletics has seen a number of student-athletes transfer to other colleges where competition has been allowed. One team on campus who has had to deal with this issue firsthand was the Stan State baseball team, who saw players like Grant Victor, Andrew Mier, Douglas Gragg, and ace pitcher Rylan Tinsley all transfer throughout the course of the past year.

Many athletics programs would typically address this issue by aggressively recruiting, but even that has been limited in many ways due to the implementation of varying local health guidelines across the nation and throughout individual states.

For instance, many California high schools did not begin competing in athletics until January 25 of this year when Governor Gavin Newsom approved the California Department of Public Health’s youth sports guidelines. These guidelines have categorized sports based on the state’s colored tier reopening plan, which can be viewed in the image below.

California Youth Sports Guideline Tiers

Chart courtesy of the California Department of Public Health.

Based on these guidelines, only a limited number of sports in California have been able to compete since late January. These sports include golf, cross country, track and field, tennis, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball. There are only a few California counties who are in the yellow tier, leaving sports like basketball paused in most of the state. The limited number of sports being played has led to a limited number of student-athletes for Stan State coaches to evaluate and potentially recruit.

Nevertheless, health and safety guidelines vary by state. Unfortunately for Stan State athletics, neither these varied or relaxed guidelines within the state of California have provided much help as university employees were prohibited from traveling for work-related activities up until April 5.

Stan State Athletic Director Terry Donovan offered his thoughts on some of the challenges faced by the athletics department in the past year.

“This year has looked very different than anything we have ever seen [as] our coaches have recruited in a virtual fashion,” said Donovan. 

Despite limited opportunities for student-athletes to compete and the campus travel restrictions preventing coaches from conducting a thorough evaluation of potential recruits, Donovan feels that talented individuals will still be able to find a place to play at the collegiate level. The downside to this is that colleges like Stan State may be at a disadvantage and could miss out.

“I don’t know if a talented student-athlete will miss an opportunity [to be recruited] as I tend to think if you are good at your sport, someone will find you,” Donovan explained. “However, we know other universities [were] able to recruit students in the Central Valley. Since Stan State [was] not able to go on the road recruiting, it may mean that those talented students attend college elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, Donovan remains optimistic that there will be sports at Stan State this fall and that all teams will have an opportunity to succeed.

“If we remain diligent in social distancing, sanitization, mask wearing, and vaccinations, our chances [of being able to compete] are very high,” Donovan said. “I believe the guidance from the CDC, State of California, NCAA, and Stanislaus County provides a clear pathway of how we are able to compete. I have great confidence in our campus leaders in making the right decision based upon the data and science available. As we have always done, we will prepare for all scenarios.”

The campus community continues to be encouraged to check in with the Warrior AthleticsCCAA, and NCAA Division II websites and social media accounts for the latest updates regarding the status of Stan State athletic competition for the upcoming fall 2021 semester.

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