Chico State Athletics await return

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Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU, Chico

Coach Gary Towne (second from left) talks to the Chico State Wildcats before they compete in the men’s 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Haggin Oaks Golf Course on Saturday, November 23, 2019 in Sacramento, Calif.

Chico High and Pleasant Valley both competed on Jan. 30 in their first joint cross-country matches since March 2020, giving hope for some non-contact high school sports to make a spring return. 

But at Chico State, no athletic programs have been cleared to restart competitions, and it’s still not clear when those decisions will be made. 

“It gives me hope to see sports taking place locally,” said Gary Towne, Chico State’s men’s and women’s cross-country and track coach. “I follow the rest of the NCAA, and they’ve been having track meets the last three or four weeks and it gives me hope these events are happening.”

Coach Gary Towne (center) talks to fans after the Chico State Wildcats compete in the men's 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Haggin Oaks Golf Course on Saturday, November 23, 2019 in Sacramento, Calif.
Coach Gary Towne (center) talks to fans after the Chico State Wildcats compete in the men’s 2019 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Haggin Oaks Golf Course on Saturday, November 23, 2019 in Sacramento, Calif.

Nearly a year has passed since Chico State’s sports programs were indefinitely suspended. 

Men’s head soccer coach Felipe Restrepo can only interact with his players virtually. 

“We talk to the guys every day,” Restrepo said. “Usually it’s by phone, text or Zoom, and that’s really been the bulk of the work up to this point. I’d say about half of my team is back home, back in their respective cities.”

Head softball coach Angel Shamblin said that graduating seniors have the option to come back for another season. This paves the way for those in their senior year to compete for at least one more season.

“Certainly without competing, [the seniors] do have a choice to come back, but all that depends on when they’re graduating,” Shamblin said. “A lot of student athletes are going to have to make personal choices on what works best in their lives for them.”

Coach Towne mentioned another option that is given to the students considering the circumstances they face.

“We have a few that are planning to come back with maybe a second degree or a master’s degree in part so that they can compete and finish their last year of eligibility,” Towne added.

The future of Chico State athletics is unknown as of now, but they’re hopeful they will return soon. In the meantime, the teams continue to meet over Zoom and practice individually, until it’s deemed safe to play. 

Connor McPherson can be reached at [email protected] @theGOATMcphers1 on Twitter.