PENDLETON — Just when Blue Mountain Community College thought it had a plan in place for athletics for the upcoming school year, the Northwest Athletic Conference updated its plan of action.

With all but a couple of fall sports moved to a modified winter/spring schedule because of COVID-19, the NWAC two weeks ago had the remaining sports phasing in, starting with men’s and women’s basketball in the middle of January 2021, and volleyball set to begin Feb. 27, 2021.

On July 15, the NWAC changed its plans. Now, all sports other than cross-country and golf (which will be played in the fall), are set to begin Jan. 2, 2021, with the first of several phases. Scheduling for all sports still is in the works.

“Our athletes are doing well to understand that the health of their teammates and coaches is our priority,” said Jordan Hillmick, BMCC’s sports information specialist and women’s soccer coach. “We are doing the best we can to get them their seasons. It’s scary, but the players are optimistic.”

In a release by the NWAC, changes were made after talking with NWAC Sports Medicine team members, who said it would be easier to manage players and data when all teams for winter sports are starting in the Gray Phase at the same time.

The Gray Phase requires that athletes will quarantine within the county of their institution for the first 14 days prior to moving into the Red Phase.

The Red Phase will allow group practice for less than 10 players, with the Yellow Phase allowing practice of up to 50 players.

The Green Phase will allow full team practices, scrimmages and games, with the Blue Phase giving the all-clear for normal competition.

While teams are anticipating playing a full season, they will do so without fans or media. All game-day staff will be required to wear a mask.

“We are working on livestreaming for all of our sports,” Hillmick said. “We are going to give our fans everything we can.”

For BMCC, the change in schedule creates a need for strict schedules for three teams to use the gym, and for baseball, softball and both soccer teams vying for time in the turf field house when conditions outside are not ideal.

“We will be having athletic department meetings to work out schedules,” Hillmick said.

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