For the first time in nearly a year, Point Loma Nazarene's athletics department has some good news.
The PacWest Conference announced the first stages of their return-to-play plan. The Sea Lions will get to play games that count starting in mid-January when basketball season gets going.
"I think there's been a great amount of relief, excitement, joy," says head basketball coach Matt Logie. "I cannot say enough how steady and consistent the leadership of our athletic director Ethan Hamilton has been through this time, to navigate these waters. We're grateful."
Here's the early plan for the 2021 PacWest sports schedule (all, of course, subject to change during the COVID-19 pandemic):
- Men's and women's basketball season will run for seven weeks from the week of January 18 through the first week of March.
- Men's and women's soccer is expected to run from the beginning of February thru early March.
- Men's and women's volleyball immediately follows soccer, from mid-March through late April.
- Softball will be scheduled from early March through the end of April.
- Baseball is expected to run from early March through early May.
Details for the spring championship sports of golf, tennis, and track and field, as well as details for the cross country season, will be announced at a later date.
The conference is planning on a pod-style of play, much like the NBA and NHL used successfully in their post-seasons. The idea, which is still being ironed out, is to have three pods: Southern California, Northern California and Hawaii. Point Loma would be joined in the Southern California pod by Biola, Azusa Pacific and Concordia.
The basketball programs would play all three schools four times. They'd also like to bring all three Hawaii schools (Chaminade, Hawaii Hilo and Hawaii Pacific) to the mainland for a week for a trio of games to run the full schedule to 15 games.
"Eleven is kind of the target number to qualify for post-season participation so, those are kind of the frameworks we've been working under right now. Nothing's been finalized but I think there's a good skeleton in place," says Logie.
This announcement is especially important to senior student-athletes who've been staying in shape hoping for games that they honestly had no idea would ever come.
"We didn't know until last-minute if we were even going to have a season," says senior soccer midfielder Hailey Clifford. "So we're all training at home trying to prepare. I think it was definitely a big relief to finally say hey, at least we get to be with the team. At least we get to get some training feeling like we're working towards something."
The PacWest is still working on a final COVID-19 testing plan, something the Sea Lions have been implementing since students returned to campus. Obviously, for Logie and the other coaches who have been placed in the position of not just coaching and teaching but protecting the health of their student-athletes this process has been stressful. But it's also provided some positives.
"Honestly it's been a great opportunity to teach some life lessons," says Logie. "I think for our student-athletes, for our basketball players, we always talk about life after basketball and when the ball stops bouncing. I think this has really given our athletes a different perspective on that."