DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – As of last Monday, the NJCAA officially voted for all close-contact sports to be moved from the fall to the spring, leaving some athletes and coaches switching gears.
Many junior college coaches, student-athletes, and administration were caught off guard following the NJCAA’s announcement, but now, they’re preparing for their new seasons come spring.
August 1 was supposed to be the first official day of practice for DC3 football.
The players won’t be hitting the field in the fall but in the spring.
“At first it was like everybody was really mad because we’re ready to play the season,” said DCCC quarterback, Jase Orndorff.
Jase Orndorff is a sophomore at Dodge City Community College who was looking forward to finishing out his last few months here. Now, he’ll have to wait another semester.
He is more focused than ever.
“Really in the long run, I feel like this will help us because now we have eight more months to prepare and get ready for the season,” said Orndorff.
His coach, now getting his nearly 90 players already on campus focused as their training is being transitioned from game day ready to offseason conditioning.
“You hear there’s no football in the fall well people will say well football season’s canceled, that’s not true. It’s just restructured,” said head football coach, Ricky Coon.
The shock of the conference’s decision has turned into determination.
“We have a saying in our program, E+R=O. Event, plus response equals outcome. And the only thing we control is the R. We have to respond a certain way and that’s going to determine the outcome of the situation and that’s how we’re going to approach it,” said Coon.
As they say, ‘together we conquer.’
“As long as we get to play football, I’m fine,” said Orndorff.
The conference has allowed for a 60-day period of practice in the fall, but the season won’t officially start until March. As for what this move means for athletes looking to transfer in December it is still unclear.
For other sports, preparations are not far behind.
The women’s head basketball coach, Zach Loll, has already met with his players via videoconference to discuss the changes and listen to their concerns.
“How you display and how you react to the situation, they’re going to feed off of that. So you’ve got to stay poised and give them direction. You have to be open with them and provide them information, but at the same time, let them know that you don’t always have all the answers,” said Loll. “We’ve got to be able to adapt on a daily basis.”
He is now navigating the changes while focusing on his players safety.
“We’ve got to do what’s necessary to keep ourselves safe and keep others safe. If we can do those things, it increases the likelihood that we’re able to have a season,” said Loll.
The athletic director of DC3 is also looking at ways to ease the burden of an overloaded spring schedule.
He says even though the schedules will be staggered throughout the spring semester, the college will have nearly four weeks of overlap in which every sport will be competing.
The college is currently preparing its game day administration staff, athletic training programs, and renovating their older facilities to make up for the need for practice space.
When you’re moving everything into one semester, we’ve got to have a plan and we can’t do that with one or two people making that plan. We have to be able to have everybody on the same page when we do that,” said DCCC athletic director Jake Ripple.
The college is also in discussion with the local school district to determine if those facilities may need to be utilized.
As of now, he is planning to do a test run of the protocols in the fall before the competition in the spring heats up.
For more information on the current NJCAA orders, click here.