Servando Vargas / Courier —A mixed media illustration depicting a thermometer and soccer ball combined with a photo image of the Louie Pompei memorial sports complex of Glendora in the background created on Monday, November 9, 2020. Safety precautions such as temperature checks had been conducted by players of the PCC men’s soccer team who practiced at the complex since sports had been cancelled due to the pandemic. Background Image credit: Google https://goo.gl/maps/QGhngYGDtsWP8zrZ6
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The PCC men’s soccer team have been practicing every Tuesday since the beginning of Aug. between 8 a.m and 10 a.m. to prepare for the 2021 Spring season. Without the assistance of their coaches, the student-athletes took it upon themselves to run their own practices even though there are 18,641 COVID-19 cases and 146 deaths in Los Angeles County in the month of Nov., according to Los Angeles Public Health.

campus has been locked down, so the team had to find a new venue. They decided to practice in Glendora, at a disclosed park called Louie Pompeii, where it has been accessible for the soccer team to practice with one another. The team was relieved to continue their workouts on a field that isn’t overcrowded.  

“It’s a spot that we train, it has goals and a turf field which is all we need,” said midfielder Ronaldo Chavez. “The park is usually open and there’s not too many people that go to the park.”

In order for the players to practice, the team captains created COVID-19 protocols to ensure that they are well enough to participate. There are approximately 15 student-athletes who show up to practice. Goalie Andrew Espinoza is one of the captains who takes everyone’s temperature by a thermometer to make sure nobody is over 101 degrees. Every student-athlete must have a negative test before they are allowed to participate. They will be sent home if they don’t follow the regulations.

“We have strict rules in order to practice with us,” said Espinoza. “Our number one goal is to make sure everyone is healthy.”

During practice, Chavez and the other captains have spaced out players into groups to limit spreading. Their goal is to have a maximum of 10 people per group. In these groups, they do drill work. One drill is called the rondo, where one group has possession of the ball and the other group tries to steal the ball from the other team.

“In small groups, we do a drill that is called keep away or ball work,” said Chavez. “It’s like a circle spread out and 2 or 3 players in the middle try to take the ball away.”

Not all players are available to make it to the practices since the practices aren’t in a centralized location. Center midfielder Marc Emmanuel wishes practices were closer to home than having to drive out to Glendora. Emmanuel lives near Hollywood and he’s expressed that every player should have equal travel time. Practicing in a field that requires less travel would inspire everyone to attend more practices.

“I just hope that they would do it somewhere in Glendale. That way everyone has the same amount of travel.” said Emmanuel. “It would be more of a neutral venue for everyone on the team.”

Emmanuel has been to two practices and felt the environment was safe. So far, none of the student-athletes participating in practice have tested positive. This was a good sign for him to continue to participate. Emmanuel also felt confident to practice since there were no spectators around, making the atmosphere safe to be around his teammates. 

“I did feel safe about practicing with a few players of our own because we tested negative for the virus,” said Emmanuel. “We were the only team practicing and we had the whole field to ourselves.”

They plan to play this year and showcase their talent to family and friends this upcoming season. Last year, their overall record was 10-8-4 with a conference record of 2-4-2. This year, their goal is to improve their wins in the conference, with hopes of making the playoffs. The PCC men’s soccer team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016. 

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