Fillies to play soccer in spring

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The National Junior College Athletic Association is changing plans for fall competition.

“[A] majority of competition will be moved to the spring semester,” the organization stated in a press release Monday afternoon.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College usually plays one fall sport. It won’t in 2020.

Women’s soccer is among four sports moving to spring. The others are men’s soccer, football and court volleyball.

Soccer will open practice on March 15, 2021. The regular season opens April 2. The NJCAA stated that winter sports would begin play in January. ABAC does not field any winter sports teams.

Though soccer won’t have games during the fall, but will still be active. ABAC Athletic Director Alan Kramer said the team will practice during that span.

“When any type of national decision comes down, it’s a time we have to be flexible,” said Kramer. After four months, he’s used to flexibility. COVID-19 ended spring seasons in March and he’s had to wait on news from the Georgia legislature, the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association, the NJCAA and health authorities as to when and how campus activities can resume.

Kramer is a fan of the decision as it will allow students time to adjust to being back on campus and also gives schools time to make sure contact sports can be played safely.

“It’ll buy us some more time to do the right things and be more prepared,” he said.

This process will be a new way of thinking, “You completely reinvent a newer, safer way to do our best to go about this,” said Kramer. The leadership for this way is beyond athletes, he said, and extends to student leaders on campus to set the tone.

As of now, the NJCAA stated that usual spring sports would have only a slight adjustment in 2021. ABAC’s spring teams are softball, baseball, golf and men’s and women’s tennis. Kramer might be stretched thin. With soccer also this upcoming spring, all ABAC sports will be competitive at the same time. 

The Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association, of which ABAC is a member, has not released any statements regarding the plan, but did re-tweet the NJCAA’s statement on Twitter.

The football announcement has no impact on ABAC — the college last fielded a gridiron team in 1937 — but does affect local athletes.

A few former Tift County Blue Devils played for junior colleges last year and are eligible to do so this fall. No rosters have been released for any schools, but Ricky Perry (Dodge City) and Patrick Felton (Northeast Mississippi Community College) were active as freshmen in 2019. The California Community College Athletic Association has also moved football to the spring. Quay Duggins suited up for Victor Valley Community College in 2019.

“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” said NJCAA President and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker in Monday’s release. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents and the leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”

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