It was unprecedented when spring sports were canceled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As it turns out, that may have just been the start.
Jamestown Community College on Wednesday announced that it was canceling all fall intercollegiate athletic competition for the 2020 academic year.
“JCC is cancelling all fall intercollegiate athletics — volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and cross country — for the fall 2020 semester due to recommended regulations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said George Sisson, Jamestown CC athletics and recreation director. “It was a hard and sad decision to make, but we must protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes, staff and community.”
Jamestown CC’s decision was made after all but five of the 21 colleges in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 3 had canceled their fall athletics programs.
For the nationally recognized volleyball program, it means the Jayhawks will not have an opportunity to qualify for their fourth straight NJCAA national tournament after winning three consecutive regional championships.
“I had been in communication with some other coaches in the region and I knew that so many other teams in the region were pulling out that we would be left with very few teams to play,” Jamestown CC volleyball coach Ashley Lund said. “For JCC to come out and say it wasn’t a shock. It was just a matter of time.”
Five Jamestown CC sophomores — Alexys Marsh, Tess Morningstar, Britney Rounsville, Emma Pumford and Karleigh Haines — will retain a year of eligibility, but have likely played their final games in Jayhawks uniforms without even knowing it.
“The tears were streaming down their faces during our Zoom meeting (Tuesday) night,” Lund said. “To see the shock of knowing they won’t have another year at the JUCO level, it was a very real moment. It was hard for me to give them that message.”
Lund also had a promising recruiting class planning to attend the Falconer Street campus this fall.
“I was really excited about this class. … The girls coming in were diligent about what we were trying to do.
“I’m in charge of keeping them safe,” Lund added. “With this situation, you don’t know what you are going to be able to do that.”
The decision was likely influenced greatly by the number of international students that participate in NJCAA athletics, notably the men’s soccer team at Jamestown CC, which features 11 international sophomores returning from last year’s squad as well as a recruiting class that included 13 international signings.
“We were having more and more difficulty with our international players,” Jamestown CC men’s soccer coach Pat Anderson said Wednesday. “With U.S. embassies not allowing interviews for visas, we were losing potential players who wouldn’t get here on time.”
The Jayhawks made a competitive jump on the pitch last fall, posting a 12-6-3 record that qualified them to host a Region 3 subregional at Falconer’s Bill Race Field in October. Jamestown CC won that game for the right to take on nationally ranked Genesee CC in the semifinals, a game the Cougars won, 3-0.
“It looked like we might be able to put together a schedule about a week ago and one of the guys that I work with had a few players who might want to transfer if indeed we were playing,” Anderson said. “It didn’t pan out very well, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.”
Now Anderson will be faced with the dilemma of keeping the international signings that planned on coming to Jamestown even though soccer won’t be part of the draw for at least this school year.
“We could’ve had five of our 11 sophomores back under the right circumstances and several others had deferred to come back for 2021,” Anderson said. “We are going to have a small core of players who have experienced success. … I’ve talked to most of the international students today and there is a very positive attitude.”
The women’s soccer team had nine freshmen listed on last year’s roster. It is unknown how many of them were planning on playing again this fall.
The fall of 2020 was also supposed to bring cross country into Jamestown CC’s athletic arsenal — albeit at the Olean campus in Cattaraugus County.
“Although the plan to initiate a new cross-country program at our Cattaraugus County Campus is impacted for the fall, we will move ahead with establishing a cross-country team once athletic competitions are restarted,” Sisson said.
The winter athletics schedule remains under consideration with a decision pending on July 17. JCC’s winter athletics schedule includes men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and swimming and diving.
“This virus causes concerns. … Everybody wants to take a deep breath to see how the U.S. and the rest of the world is going to be affected,” Anderson said. “I told George (Sisson) the other day: ‘We have done everything right, but there are things that are out of our control.’
“Failure is sometimes based on things you can’t control,” Anderson added. “We did it the right way. Hopefully we are able to bounce back.”
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