As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across the community, the Palo Verde College (PVC) Pirates basketball program is currently mapping out what hopes to be an upcoming sophomore season since having returned to the floor after a four-decade absence in 2019.
“We’ve been informed by the CCCAA (California Community College Athletic Association) – they’ve had these COVID-19 working groups – and they suspended all sports, not just basketball, (but) all of the fall sports are being suspended until the spring (of 2021). In January we’ll be able to start practicing, and then Feb. 5 is our first game. As of right now, we’ll be traveling to Southwestern College in San Diego,” stated PVC Athletic Director Ryan Copple. “As soon as they say we can let students back into the college, then we can open our gym up and have a little open gym type things for the students that are out here. But yea, according to the rules – they state first practice is (in) January.”
Copple has also been informed of a reduced 20-game schedule instead of the regular 28-game season – four non-conference, and 16 conference games.
Despite earlier plans to expand PVC athletics sometime this year also being impacted, leadership continues to map a future with more student-athletes and program opportunities.
“We still do have a women’s (basketball) team coming. We’ve been in contact with the women that want to play, so we’re still looking forward to that being our new sport this (coming) year,” said Copple. “Obviously, with the softball club, we’re trying to get that going. (COVID) kind of put a damper on that, so I’m going to have to look at 2022 – look into it there, suspend it a year. But you know, the kids are still in contact; we’re in contact with all the student-athletes, they’re still wanting to come back and play. They’re just waiting for all of this to end to get back here to get going.”
With no face-to-face recruitment allowed, recruiting has also had to adjust via telephone and email contacts.
“I have film I watch on them. I contact them – I just got done contacting a couple today, actually. They’re still interested in coming down here, so I keep in contact with the ones that are wanting to come,” said Copple. “I’m excited for our new recruiting class. I think we’ll have some new faces coming in here to help some of the faces that have been here – I think they’ll mesh really well together.”
The PVC Pirates’ first return to collegiate basketball play in over four decades last year saw standout play from Larry Hemmingway Jr., Julius Humphrey, Dennis Cross Jr., Alijah Ginn, Waylon Anderson, Jeramy and Nik Ward, Josh Golding, and (IEAC [Inland Empire Athletic Conference] second team all-conference freshman guard) Daijohn Stewart.
“They’re back home, right now; they’re doing their schooling from where they live – there’s no use for them to come here and waste money on an apartment. So they can do it online; (they’re) doing distance-education right now. The CCCAA made some rule changes to where they don’t have to complete the full 24-units, so they’re kind of helping them out. There’s talks right now of them – they may just excuse this whole year. They may not have to use this year as eligibility. We’re still having meetings on that to see how that would go; I don’t have the facts on that yet, but they’re talking about it,” noted Copple. “The CCCAA and Palo Verde College have all been great with this transition with the student-athletes; they’ve been awesome.”
Inasmuch as conditioning goes, the PVC Athletics Department has been coordinating plans with the Pirates during this off-season.
“So what’s going on right now – for the guys that are out of town, we email them workout plans. We have plans for them; some of them are running open gyms out there because they have more areas to do it at. We only have the (Joe Wine Recreation Center) and it’s closed, so our guys can’t do as much as they’re doing out there. But they’re working out at home, staying in shape. I talk to them and stay on them on the constant to ensure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” said Copple. “I know this is a tough time right now; we’re going through tough times, and I know we’re all going to overcome it together. We’ll be back and, hopefully, we’ll come back better than ever – even better than we were before.”