Travel restrictions, postponed events and social distancing measures: subjects fit for public health officials were relevant to coaches around the area as health concerns regarding COVID-19 sent student-athletes home during their spring season.
State Fair Community College soccer coach Jaime Beltran said many of the issues faced globally were localized within the men’s and women’s soccer programs.
“It was something we’ve never experienced before,” Beltran said. “I’d say that’s been the hardest thing, with other types of crisis, you have a frame of reference, you have some precedent to compare it with and it’s usually smaller in scale.”
When the NJCAA canceled the remainder of its spring events in March, Beltran used multiple channels — texting, email and WhatsApp — to relay the message to players currently on spring break.
Beltran said international recruits already faced uncertainty given travel restrictions.
“As some of these kids were trying to get home, several had flights canceled and had some struggles getting home,” Beltran said. “We have a couple of kids who don’t know they’ll be able to come back due to travel restrictions. They plan on it, they’re enrolled in classes, they’re scheduled for it.”
Beltran said incoming recruits, including Lady Tigers trio Megan Toops, Sabra Moon and Taiyan Williams can expect their promises to be honored. He sympathizes with the players missing their senior campaign, and those who may not be recruited without a springtime observation.
“It’s not about seeing them, but the opportunity doesn’t arrive to see the diamond in the rough at the last minute,” Beltran said. “For example, you go see Johnny play and you see Billy and you realize nobody has approached Billy yet.”
Beltran said that despite unclear projections, he is planning as far ahead as possible while staying in touch with the SFCC student-athletes.
“We are planning to be there and making our plans around that, but we know everything can be upended,” Beltran said. “We may release our summer workout early, but they’re designed to build to a certain point.
“I know they’re probably worried about a lot of other things.”