By Tim Morris, The JournalNJ Health & Fitness Guide 2020

Brookdale Community College (BCC) is gearing up for a busy spring athletic season.

“We’re going to have 12 sports competing in the spring,” said Katie Amundson, BCC athletic director, and women’s soccer coach.

With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the fall athletic seasons on the Lincroft campus as well as campuses throughout the state and Region 19, the spring calendar is filling up as the fall sports (soccer, cross country, women’s tennis, and volleyball) join the traditional spring sports (baseball, softball, lacrosse and men’s tennis) in action. These unprecedented times have forced extraordinary measures that are allowing junior colleges to continue intercollegiate athletes.

As if the inclusion of fall sports doesn’t complicate the spring season enough, basketball has been added to the spring calendar, although it will tip-off in January and will extend into the spring. Official practice will start on Monday, Jan. 4 with the season beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The season will run into the spring with the Region and NJCAA tournaments slated for April.

Soccer, which was shut down in the fall, moves to the spring and is scheduled to start-up in March.

These unprecedented times have forced extraordinary measures that are allowing junior colleges to continue intercollegiate athletics during the 2020-21 school year.

Although the competition was shut down, Brookdale’s fall and winter teams have been able to practice outdoors, delivering some sense of normalcy. Amundson pointed out that participation in fall practices has been high and consistent.

“Our teams have been practicing this fall, and everything is going well,” said Amundson. “Protocols are being followed, and the students and coaches are really enjoying being able to practice in their limited pods. Our administration has been very supportive.”

Putting on her coach’s hat, Amundson noted that the practices have her players looking forward to the season ahead of them as well as just enjoying being together.

“My team is so excited,” she said. “They’ve been very busy. We truly missed the interaction.”

Through the pandemic, Brookdale teams haven’t lost any athletes; in fact, they have gained some. Brookdale has become more attractive to those student-athletes who would rather stay close to home. Others have opted to attend community college because of the reduced tuition.

“Our numbers are up, and our rosters are filling,” Amundson remarked. “I get calls from students looking to transfer.”

Amdunson has been encouraged by how successfully the NJSIAA has reopened high school sports in the state. The organization’s protocols, including limited schedules and limited travel along with following CDC health guidelines, have helped the schools navigate their way through the fall season. That has made Amundson confident that Brookdale and other junior colleges in the area can successfully reopen in the spring.

“We are very hopeful we will be able to compete as long as we can do so safely,” she said.