2020 is the year of the unknown and not knowing what will be around the next corner. The sports world was affected, and it didn’t matter your age or what you played. Century College was hit hard with the unfortunate news of Coivd-19 that shut down the whole sports program. Student-athletes come to Century College/JUCO (developer school for student-athletes) to develop and hone their skills to perform at the next level, and to have the opportunity to move on and play at higher levels. I was also a kid affected by this madness and was looking forward to playing overseas in Puerto Rico with many other D3 or D2 baseball players and truly wondered when this bad dream would be over.
Professional college, and high school, sports are slowly making their comebacks with many protocols in place. I wanted to see what the plans were for Century College. So, I contacted the sports director at Century College, Dwight Kotila, and learned what his thoughts from last year were. We also talked about the future of Century sports, and how the sports program looks to bounce back.
I’m the “Q”, while Dwight is the “A”.
Q: First, what is your role on campus, and how long have you been at Century College?
A: I am the Athletic Director, and teach in the Physical Education and Health dept. This is my 12th year at Century. I also served as the head baseball coach from 2011-2019.
Q: What are the plans this year for volleyball and are they holding any meetings or workouts?
A: We are a member of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC). The presidents of the MCAC decided to postpone and/or cancel fall sports due to COVID-19. There are also no practices or workouts allowed for volleyball, or the baseball team in the fall. Because of this, many of the athletes are working out on their own, or just taking classes this fall. The coaches are holding Zoom meetings and phone calls with their players to help them stay engaged.
Q: Has COVID-19 affected sports on campus or even other activities?
A: As I mentioned, it has affected baseball as well. The baseball team typically has a fall practice and scrimmage season and a spring season. Because of the ruling by the MCAC presidents, their fall season was canceled also. And other than the fitness center, no college fields or facilities can be used either. I also believe all campus intramural activities have been canceled for fall as well, but I am not in charge of that.
Q: Have Century or any other JUCO schools set up protocols for baseball, volleyball, or any other sports to keep players/staff safe during this unknown time? If so, what are they and how will they enforce those rules so players will follow?
A: Since there aren’t any fall sport seasons for JUCO’s in Minnesota, there really aren’t any additional protocols that were set up for the teams. But as we get closer to December, a decision will probably be made by the MCAC presidents if there will be a spring baseball season. If there is a spring baseball season, then the MCAC and each college will come up with safety guidelines and protocols for their teams. Some JUCOs in other states are allowing limited fall seasons and are planning on having a full spring season. But we need to see what our conference and our presidents decide.
Q: Have players expressed how much they’ve wanted to play?
A: All the athletes on the volleyball and baseball teams were disappointed that their fall seasons were canceled. But they also understand the situation we are in with COVID.
Q: Have any players caught COVID-19 that you would know?
A: I haven’t heard of any Century athlete testing positive for COVID.
Q: What was the reaction when everything shut down last year? Especially for baseball which was early in their season.
A: Everyone was extremely disappointed last spring, especially the baseball team. They were just finishing their spring trip to Florida when they received the news. The team had high hopes of returning to the NJCAA College World Series again, and they were off to a very good start to the season. The good news is that all the players were given an extra year of eligibility by the NJCAA and NCAA even though most teams had played games already. So, a lot of players are coming back for another year this year instead of moving on to a 4-year college.
Q: Do you believe it will be safe to play in the spring? Especially since a lot of players/staff go home to families.
A: It’s hard to guess what will happen this spring. We all must keep thinking positively that everyone will be safe if there is a season. The vaccines being developed by the government will hopefully help everyone starting after January 1, but no one knows the exact process of that either. If there is a spring season, we will do everything we can to keep everyone safe. And based on the success of the summer baseball and sport programs that took place this past summer, I feel good about it. Those sports that played all summer long proved you can have a season while keeping everyone safe.
Q: What have Century lifting facilities done to have a safe (virus-free) environment?
A: You will have to talk to the facilities dept to get those protocols…but they are doing a great job keeping the entire campus safe.
Q: Last question: as a sports team, is there any team comments about the recent George Floyd murder and how Century sports chooses to respond and handle racism?
A: Century College athletics follows the Century College Equity and Inclusion Statement found at this link: https://www.century.edu/about/equity-inclusion
If you have any other clarifying questions, I’ll leave both Dwight Kotila and Intramural director Chris Yahnke’s information down below.