WCHC to host online recruiting camp, ’20-21 season facing uncertainty
The West Coast Hockey Conference had to cancel its in-person recruiting camp and college fair in August at Lakewood Ice due to concerns related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
But the collegiate ice hockey conference has kept the door open to prospective recruits by offering a virtual camp instead.
The conference will host an online Zoom recruit session, scheduled Oct. 3 at 11 a.m., to provide an overview of its10 California-based WCHC teams and how to play college hockey. In the session prospective recruits will learn about each school, admissions, majors, student life and about each hockey program.
“We will then open it up to a question and answer session and each team will give out contact information or host an additional Zoom session individually for their teams,” Loyola Marymount general manager Tyler Goeckner-Zoeller explained.
The online event is open to students who are looking at applying to college in the next few years. Parents are welcome.
To sign up for the October introductory Zoom session, prospective recruits can click on the following link:
The WCHC is a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Its 10 California members include California State University Northridge (CSUN), Loyola Marymount University (LMU), CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), all in Tier 1, and CSU Bakersfield, Chapman University, California Lutheran University, University of San Diego (USD) and UC Irvine (UCI), all in Tier 2.
Northridge finished as last season’s Tier 1 regular-season champion while USD finished as the regular season Tier 2 champion.
At the ensuing conference playoff tournament, Northridge defeated LMU, 4-2, to captured its fourth consecutive WCHC title.
CSUN subsequently advanced to the ACHA Division II West Region tournament in Boise.
The start of the 2020-21 season has been delayed due to the current health crisis, with many teams postponing games through the end of the calendar year.
LMU was one of the first teams in the conference to post an online message in regard to the status of its season.
“As Loyola Marymount University continues to monitor and adjust to the realities of COVID-19, we are sad to let you know that the LMU hockey team will be off the ice for the remainder of the 2020 year,” the Internet post reads.
“We hope that the situation can improve and we can return to the ice for a condensed spring season, starting in January 2021, and hopefully at that point, we can also bring back our fans for another run at the WCHC championship, and a trip to the ACHA regional tournament.”
For updated information, the LMU hockey team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Beach State’s hockey club also generated an online message to its supporters.
“Due to current circumstances related to COVID-19 the university has decided to postpone our 2020-21 season,” the post begins. “This decision was made to help preserve the health of student-athletes, staff and fans. We are disappointed that we will not be taking the ice this fall but we are hopeful that we will be able to play starting in the spring.”
The team noted in the July 23 post that it expects to resume normal team operations at the start of the next calendar year, that it is hopeful of playing a condensed season in the spring and also hopeful that fans will be able to return to the rink to support the team.
“We would like to thank all of the Beach faithful for their support, and we hope to return to the ice as soon as possible,” the Forty-Niners’ Internet post concludes.
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Since those announcements were made over the summer, the landscape has changed with spikes in the infection rate at colleges throughout the Golden State as students return to classes to start the fall semester.
As a result, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Sept. 10 in a letter to the 23-campus community that most classes would continue to be held online for the spring semester that begins in January 2021.
The decision affects the nation’s largest public university system of about 500,000 students and staff.
“We know far more about (the virus) now than we did back in May,” White said. “The virus continues to spread. There is no vaccine, and there likely will not be one widely available any time soon. This decision is the only responsible one available to us at this time and is the only one that supports our twin North Stars of safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, students and communities, as well as enabling degree progression for the largest number of students.”
White pointed to an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter, which helped in making the decision to remain in distance learning mode. “A larger wave continues to be forecast for the period between October and December coupled with seasonal influenza,” White offered in a cautionary tone. “This will undoubtedly be a daunting challenge for us.”
No word has been issued from the chancellor’s office as far as participation by CSU sports teams in the spring semester. Four of the 10 WCHC members operate under the CSU system.
The situation, of course, remains fluid.
“Our goal was to start everyone back up for a condensed league schedule in January, but with Cal State saying no in-person classes in spring either, it’s all completely up in the air,” Goeckner-Zoeller said.
On an optimistic note, however, the ACHA has pushed back its national championship tournament in Boston three weeks to April 15-20 to accommodate additional regular season play.
The National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA), like its ice sibling, has stated its intent to hold a condensed spring season. The Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League (WCRHL) is a NCRHA member and includes teams in California, Arizona and Nevada.
The NCRHA released a statement on Aug. 25 detailing its plans for the 2020-21 season.
NCRHA executive director and WCRHL league director Brennan Edwards cited numerous concerns in announcing the delayed start to the season.
“As we reach traditional back-to-campus time, when clubs begin their preparation for the year and for the start of the NCRHA regular season play, we find ourselves in unprecedented circumstances,” Edwards opened the association’s lengthy message to players, coaches and fans. “As with everything else thus far in 2020, it is unfortunately apparent that the 2020-21 collegiate club roller hockey season will not resemble anything that has come before.
“There are still many unknowns at this point. The NCRHA has been in contact with the club sports departments of its member institutions since the spring and throughout the summer. Our goal at this point in the calendar is to provide as much college roller hockey as possible during the 2020-2021 academic year.
“To do so will require us to navigate the shifting winds of the many colleges and universities that are in various states of change and decision-making in relation to their method of instruction, campus life, club sports participation and other important items. As we must first focus on the safety and well-being of our student athletes, the NCRHA will be planning and making decisions within the constraints established by local, state and federal guidelines, as well as the policies adopted by the individual colleges and universities involved across the country.”
Edwards said much was gleaned in a survey sent to club sports directors at all NCRHA-participating colleges and universities, the results of which weighed heavily in the decision to postpone the start of the season.
The NCRHA asked a series of questions related to fall 2020 start dates, method of instruction and club sports participation. Edwards noted that in those results, the overwhelming majority of respondents stated that their club sports teams will be unable to compete until Jan. 1, 2021, and even then, there is and will continue to be uncertainty whether that will be possible due to the often-changing COVID-19 situation.
“We do not believe that nationwide collegiate roller hockey season play will be possible until at least Jan. 1, 2021,” Edwards said in summary. “Therefore, we will not begin play in any of our conferences before the new year. We also recognize that some clubs may be able and wanting to play collegiate roller hockey during the fall semester, and if possible, the NCRHA and its conferences will provide optional opportunities for clubs that are interested and have permission from their college/university to participate.”
Edwards said the NCRHA plans to begin conference play to the degree possible in the spring semester, followed by a national championships in April 2021 in Fort Myers, Fla.
“This will, of course, have to be a condensed, possibly shortened season than seasons past, and if circumstances dictate may need to be even further shortened,” Edwards said. “Accordingly, the need to decrease the number of regular season games required for post-season qualification will also need to be addressed.”
The dates for the Ft. Myers national championship tournament is currently April 14-18, but Edwards said the dates and/or location could also change, if necessary.
“The bottom line is that we are exploring ways to create a meaningful season and championships despite the necessity of a shorter season length,” Edwards stressed. “Once we attempt to begin play, either exhibition play in the fall or conference play in the spring, we will be releasing return-to-play guidelines based on CDC guidelines for sports and sporting organizations, plus local and state requirements of any event location plus those of any clubs that are participating,” Edwards said. “As always, the health and safety of our players, coaches and fans will be of paramount concern.”
Edwards said the parent administrative body will stay in touch with its players, coaches and fans via the NCRHA.org website, NCRHA social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and the NCRHA TV platform that was launched during the 2019-20 season.
Edwards can be reached directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NCRHA canceled its 2020 national championship tournament, scheduled last April in Fort Myers, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
— Phillip Brents
(Sept. 17, 2020)