By Heidi Perez-Moreno and Jose Tovar
It’s been more than three months since the baseball and softball seasons at Miami Dade College were cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This fall—sports are finally making a comeback.
On Thursday, the Florida College System’s Council of Presidents approved the Council of Athletic Affairs’ plan to bring sports back starting in August during its monthly meeting.
“It’s definitely going to be challenging for all of us to ensure that we do have the right plans and procedures in place to make sure that our employees and student-athletes are safe,” said MDC Athletic Director Alysia Dyer.
Softball and baseball will start practice on Aug. 31—three weeks later than last year. Both teams will play scrimmages from Sept. 5 to Oct. 31. If all goes as planned, they will play regular season games in January.
Their seasons were postponed last year on March 13. The baseball team finished 17-6 during the abbreviated season and the softball team was 10-19.
“I missed it a lot,” said Sharks’ first baseman Sujel Arias-Auzon, a rising sophomore. “I feel anxious to be back on the field with the new players and my old teammates. I think now we have to appreciate every minute we have on the field together.”
The men’s and women’s basketball teams will start practicing on Sept. 14 and officially start their seasons on Oct. 16. Last year, the teams started training at the beginning of October, and the regular season began in November.
Volleyball was the only team that was able to stick to their regular schedule. Their season is slated to begin Aug. 22 and finish before Nov. 26.
The CAA will require players, coaches, officials, statisticians and score table staff to undergo a temperature check and answer a health questionnaire to determine if they have coronavirus symptoms before each game.
Teams can’t shake hands before or after games. Hand sanitizer must be readily available for both teams at the scorer’s table or in each dugout.
Volleyball players will not be allowed to switch benches during alternating sets. Teams can only use three balls during games to accelerate the pace and reduce the number of players that come in contact with the ball.
The CAA said schools must reschedule games if someone on the team is diagnosed with the coronavirus. The organization also strongly recommends that state colleges adhere to several recommendations, including the following:
- That table crews wear face masks
- That temperature checks be done before teams depart for a game
- That colleges develop a plan for players that show symptoms while traveling
- That the rescheduling of conference games take priority over non-conference games
- That schools live stream games if they do not allow spectators at games
In addition, each school in the state college system will develop safety and health rules they will require at their facilities, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and state and local regulations.
Miami Dade College’s plan must be posted on their athletics website by Aug. 22, according to CAA Chair Matt Ennis.
The CAA plans to meet in September to reassess how fall semester sports are proceeding and to establish a plan for the spring semester.
“These policy recommendations are subject to change,” Ennis said. “We’re following guidelines. We’re following a pandemic. Things, they can change, so obviously the way we move forward could change.”