Athletics has to ‘Work a little harder’ on communication amid COVID-19

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Arianna Macaluso

All sports at California Lutheran University hault amid COVID-19 and await NCAA instruction.

Amaris Menjivar, Reporter and Lexi Ibarra, Sports Editor

COVID-19 put the world on hold back in March, transitioning most higher education institutions to remote learning.

While professors and students focused on maintaining a sense of normalcy in virtual learning, many may have forgotten that extracurriculars, such as sports, intended to continue.

This new normal requires much more timely and accurate communication, and the athletic department is no exception.

Student-athletes are required to strike a balance between classwork, family and friends and now communicating with coaches, teammates and California Lutheran University’s Athletic Affairs for information about the state of their seasons.

Junior Track & Field runner Jasmine Rico said that getting in touch with her coaches has been easy, even with many staff members working remotely.

“Our coaches were really good with communicating with us everything that was going on,” said Rico in a phone interview regarding the transition to remote learning in the spring.

“As soon as they found out that the season was going to have to be cancelled they held a team meeting…and they told us,” Rico said.

This open communication about the circumstances gave student-athletes on the Track & Field team one less thing to worry about.

Rico said she experienced the same easy flow of information coming back for the fall Cross Country season, “they’re still really on top of communication” about what the fall season would look like.

The Cross Country team, including the coaching staff, frequently meets over Zoom to keep everyone informed with the latest updates.

Sophomore golfer, Tara Ng has had a different experience.

“Coach [Jeff] Lindgren would host a lot of Zoom calls letting us know like what was going on, but the athletic department wasn’t being very clear,” Ng said in a FaceTime interview. “It was very wishy-washy.”

Ng added that Coach Lindgren was reassuring, even when the athletic department had an unclear message.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the main governing body of sports in higher education in the United States and make the rules for student-athletes as well as regulates competition.

The NCAA’s decision-making board affects sports conferences across the country, including Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which includes Cal Lutheran.

Dan Kuntz, Director of Athletics, said in an email interview that his department is regularly meeting with SCIAC and “university presidents to discuss plans for the future, taking into consideration all emerging factors.”

Earlier in the year, the CLU Sports Instagram page posted information regarding the possible return of social distanced sports including golf which contributed to Ng’s confusion of whether or not her sport would play in 2020.

“It was really confusing. I was texting everyone: do you guys know about the season? And they were like no, coach hasn’t said anything yet.”

Kuntz said that “there will be no intercollegiate competitions this semester,” but that team training and conditioning may be considered once the state and NCAA COVID-19 testing requirements are met, as well as once athletes are medically cleared to play.

Associate Vice President for Athletic Affairs Jim McHugh said in an email interview that they have had to “work a little harder to ensure the message is conveyed.” He said Zoom meetings have been helpful getting everyone the necessary information and ensuring it is understood as intended.

“I think everyone was kind of like pretty confused about everything from my perspective,” Ng said.