After a canceled fall 2020 season and a year’s worth of waiting, Cal women’s soccer is back on the pitch, approved by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cal Athletics to resume practice at Golden Bear Field. Until further notice, the team will remain there to minimize exposure with other programs that currently occupy Edwards Stadium — one of the home bases for Cal women’s soccer under normal circumstances.
During their first practice, which was held on Jan. 11, players completed an hour of drills before meeting with the coaching staff and the team’s strength and conditioning trainer. Prior to this, the team hadn’t officially played together since March of last year.
To ensure the health and safety of players and personnel, numerous guidelines related to COVID-19 have been established. All players are required to take a COVID-19 test each week via UC Berkeley’s designated testing sites — either at the Recreational Sports Facility or Memorial Stadium.
Upon arrival, anyone who wants to enter the facility grounds must be screened during check-in. After answering a set of questions, they may be given a wristband as a stamp of approval. Once they enter, masks are to be worn at all times, including during exercises, workouts and drills. Social distancing will also be enforced by staff and anyone else on the sidelines.
As of now, only players and team personnel are permitted to step foot in Cal practice facilities. No communications staff, media, parents or fans are allowed into Golden Bear Field. This means that for the time being, the Bears will only play against and among themselves during drills and scrimmages.
Although no official announcement has been made yet for the fate of the spring 2021 season, there is reason to remain hopeful for the upcoming months. The Pac-12 is currently in the process of scheduling games that are expected to be conference-only. If everything goes according to plan — which is to say that the blue and gold stay healthy — games may be played as soon as the end of February. For now, however, players and coaches are grateful to be back in their element, with the simple opportunity to practice.
“It feels great to be back with my teammates and coaches,” said Angelina Anderson, goalkeeper and team captain. “It’s been a long time coming, and it will definitely take some getting used to again, but having the routine and structure of training and the joys of being around some of my best friends has been something I missed dearly.”
Ryan Chien covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].