A preseason unlike any other will hopefully serve as a prelude to the return of Peninsula College men’s and women’s basketball games in 2021.
That’s the takeaway from a Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce Zoom meeting featuring Pirates women’s basketball coach Alison Crumb and men’s head coach Donald Rollman held Wednesday.
Peninsula basketball players will return to Port Angeles in the coming weeks before fall quarter begins in remote fashion Sept. 28 to participate in small group workouts and focused team bonding sessions in advance of the coming season.
The Pirates have introduced the concept of “Bubble Ballers,” creating a camp-type atmosphere to keep players active and engaged.
Outdoor training, weight training and shooting workouts, study hall and small group workouts are all planned.
“The idea behind the training schedule is to keep players busy,” Crumb said. “We want to keep some structure, want to keep to local and state protocols, but want to keep them busy and not in their homes looking for something to do.”
In July, the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) announced initial return-to-play guidelines that swapped Peninsula College’s fall soccer season for a spring schedule and pushed the beginning of the winter basketball season from November to early 2021.
Last month, revised guidelines were released, a color-coded phased system that requires every member school to provide return-to-campus protocols including: identification of COVID-19 team and the COVID-19 liaison; authority from local health authority and are following state and local health authority guidelines; plan for sanitization, acquiring PPE, handling a positive/symptomatic individual, monitoring symptoms, contact tracing and an education plan for student-athletes, staff, and coaches, and game management.
The revised guidelines also pushed the NWAC Basketball Tournament to Memorial Day Weekend and the soccer championships to June 4-6.
This phased system will be in place beginning Sept. 28 until players leave town in November for the holidays and when players return to school Jan. 2.
The phases are relatively strict for college students and call for an initial 14-day shelter-in-place, followed by another 14-day period highlighted by small group trainings of no more than 10 people. Modified team practices can follow, and full-team practices and games without fans will open the season.
The return of spectators is dependent upon “successful development of widely available treatment including prophylactic immunotherapy, coupled with widespread, effective vaccination.”
“I think our players are really going to take this seriously; they’ve communicated to me how fragile this is,” Crumb said. “They have that new fire to come back and protect it. Me too, I can’t wait to get out of my living room. It’s getting bleak.”
The Bubble Ballers concept will be continually reinforced, Rollman said.
“The fact that anything you do in the community, or myself and our coaches do, is potentially putting others at risk. That’s the message we have tried to communicate, they need to be on point. We are going to be spending a lot of time together and normally I despise video games, but they can play those together after they’ve gotten their work done.”
Crumb said the teams also would feature remote speakers on topics away from the game of basketball such as social justice and mental health.
“(We plan to present) things that get them thinking about what is going on in the world, provide something outside of basketball to get them more stimulated,” Crumb said.
All of this, while understanding and accepting personal responsibility, she said.
“If they are not safe, then our season is not safe,” Crumb said. “We are hoping with that daily responsibility they will understand what it means to be safe and taking ownership of this season. That’s how we can have a season if coaches and players take ownership.”