Whether in high school or college, athletics provide a sense of excitement.
But for student-athletes to do well, they need the proper facilities to compete.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, facilities were neglected including Joe Kelly Field, John Shepard Stadium, the softball field and the tennis courts.
Acting Dean of Student Services Claudia Velasco said they have work to do and is collaborating with Athletic Director Susan Armenta.
“We are all aware that we haven’t taken care of our fields well,” Velasco said. “We didn’t have enough money and then COVID came and it ruined everything. Currently, Gil [Salas] and Susan are working with me so we can get vendors and gather quotes to give to Vice President Rolf [Schleicher]. He will then approve the best price.”
Velasco said it is unlikely that the fields will be worked on currently because spring sports are in season.
“One of the priorities that Susan and I have is the baseball field,” Velasco said. “We have $1 million to fix both baseball and softball facilities. Is it going to happen right now? No, because they are competing. Will they get fixed? Absolutely.”
Velasco said it will cost around $30,000 to work on the baseball field, but they have support from the college to begin repairs.
The Faculty Union has lent support to athletics in addressing the situation.
Velasco is hopeful that in the long run, tennis can return along with softball. As it relates to adding sports, it will have to do with the facilities.
Armenta said they will have a much successful program if the facilities are up to date.
“Part of the buy-in that I’m trying to tell the administration is, ‘Why can’t we be the administration in place to make it happen. Why can’t we do it now?’” Armenta said. “I know there is a pandemic, but there are things that we can do.”
Head football coach James Sims said he expressed his concerns over the stadium.
“The field is over 10 years and the turf needs to be changed every decade,” Sims said. “All of the infection and blood because of lack of rain is still sitting there.”
Head baseball coach Bill Picketts said he won’t risk his players’ safety.
“The field is unsafe and unplayable,” Picketts said. “It has been for three seasons, and too much damage has been done to it. I’m not putting my players at risk by playing games here. It is awesome that there is some money reserved, but it is nowhere close to what the cost will be. Until it gets taken care of, we will play on the road.”