Athletic conference announces return to play in fall


Photo courtesy of the Office of Athletics

The California Collegiate Athletic Association announced a return to play earlier this month. Pictured is men’s soccer player Corbin Thaete, who said he is excited to return to competition.

Brittney Scardina, Sports Editor

The CSUSM Athletic Department and student athletes have received the news they have been waiting for all semester. Due to COVID-19, student athletes have not participated in competition since March 2020, making it over a year since any CSUSM sports teams have practiced or played.

The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced on May 4 that the conference will compete in a traditional conference schedule starting in fall 2021. 

“The CCAA plans to align with CSU system guidance, procedures and best practices in regards to all vaccination policies, keeping the health and safety of our campus communities across the conference as our top priority,” read the CCAA news release in part.  

“Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have been incredibly resilient this past year, and I know that they will be excited to have the opportunity to get back on the field of play and compete,” said CCAA Commissioner Mitch Cox in the statement.  

CSUSM’s Director of Athletics Jennifer Milo said she is excited to have athletics return in the fall. “It was the best news we could have received. We have had a lot of disappointments this year, so to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and now our preparation is for fall, we are on a mission to get everybody back and return our student athletes in August,” said Milo.

We have had a lot of disappointments this year … we are on a mission to get everybody back and return our student athletes in August.”

— Jennifer Milo, CSUSM director of athletics

Milo and the rest of the athletic department have been preparing to return to play throughout the school year. They have created a return to play plan that includes all the details on how they will play games, practice, visit other schools and more while remaining safe.

“Everything really that has changed in the last year we have had to address in our plan, so our plan is a 40 page document that outlines all those details. This is what we have been working on with risk management as well as our medical oversight to try and keep our student athletes and staff as safe as possible when they do return,” said Milo.  

In addition, student athletes are thrilled that they will be competing a full season.

“We are all looking forward to the fall and we miss everybody. I am ready to see everyone, even outside the team. I want to see the sports all back together,” said Corbin Thaete, a second-year on the men’s soccer team. 

We are all looking forward to the fall and we miss everybody. I am ready to see everyone, even outside the team. I want to see the sports all back together.”

— Corbin Thaete, men's soccer player

Thaete said that this summer will be essential to prepare to return to competition in the fall. Over the next few months he will be preparing by working to stay fit and will encourage his teammates to do the same.

Ron Pulvers is the head men’s soccer coach and started both the men’s and women’s program in 2006. This fall will be his 16th season as the men’s soccer head coach, and he thinks it is incredible that they will be competing in the fall.

Throughout the school year, Pulvers has led his team through having a growth mindset and positive attitude while focusing on team bonding through Zoom. He hasn’t seen his team since March 2020 and plans to manage the workload when the team comes back to prevent any injuries by easing back into things.

“We have a great group of guys who really enjoy being with each other, and the soccer piece is what brings us all together. The biggest thing we are looking forward to is walking through the gate and being back on the training ground together,” said Pulvers.  

Pulvers said that he has also had a great learning experience recruiting virtually, including all video analysis and Zooms. He has two players on the current roster and five incoming players that he has not met face to face yet due to virtually recruiting.

“The hardest part of virtual recruiting is that I haven’t been able to go out and watch players, because I really enjoy watching games. I love to recruit in person, and I look forward to getting back to that. The campus visit is such a big part for prospects,” said Pulvers.

Pulvers is proud of his team because he knows that it has been tough not to be in person. Still, he believes his players will be stronger and well equipped to handle adverse situations in the future because of all the difficulties they have overcome over the last year.

The athletic department and student athletes have faced a lot of disappointment in the last school year not being able to compete and be on campus, but they are more than prepared to come back in the fall and do what they love most.

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Brittney Scardina is a senior at CSUSM who is majoring in literature and writing with a minor in communications. She is the Sports Editor for The Cougar Chronicle. After graduation, she hopes to move to New York and find an internship within the journalism field. Brittney also enjoys playing softball, reading and spending time with family and friends in her free time.