James Membreno /Courier PCC’s Samantha Diaz hits a single up the middle on Tuesday, March 5, 2018 at Jackie Robinson Park. Diaz went 2 for 3 with 2 singles.

On March 22nd, PCC Athletics announced the recipients of several scholarships offered by their department, despite the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season.

The department awarded four scholarships based on GPA and athletic ability during the 2019-2020 season. The scholarships offered were the Elizabeth Jensen, Horrell, Thomas O. Mallory, and James O’Mara scholarships.

The only scholarships that were not awarded this year were the President’s Award and the Men’s and Women’s Athlete of the Year Award due to the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season, according to Sports Information Specialist Robert Lewis.

“There are so many student-athletes who stuck with their programs as freshmen to then sophomores despite the shortened season for the 2020 spring athletes and the canceled season for the entire academic 2020-2021 year,” Lewis said. “These loyal students need to be recognized.”

PCC softball player Samantha Diaz felt devastated when she learned that the season had been canceled. Diaz has been playing the sport for 11 years, and was the winner of the Thomas O. Mallory scholarship.

“When our first season got shut down, I was planning to transfer,” Diaz said. “It kind of ruined the whole recruiting process.”

After the season’s cancellation, softball and women’s basketball started conducting zoom workouts, which have been criticized as apathetic, given the disconnect from watching a screen versus playing in person.

The 5’5 infielder said that she didn’t expect to win a scholarship this year.

“My coach sent me a text saying I nominated you for a scholarship and you got it,” Diaz said. “I was honestly in shock. I never knew that people paid attention. I was just playing my sport and having fun. I didn’t think I was capable of getting a scholarship.”

Women’s basketball player and Jensen scholarship recipient Kristal Espinoza shared many of the same sentiments, saying that the cancellation of their season was a major upset and that she didn’t expect to get any scholarships. Although grateful for the recognition, Espinoza believes first year student-athletes were at a disadvantage due to the canceled seasons.

“They weren’t given a chance to show their skills,” Espinoza said. “Instead, they were evaluated on how they perform in the classroom which is not totally fair because some athletes are exceptional in their sport, but just mediocre in the classroom and this affected their chances of receiving a scholarship.”

Despite these feelings, Espinoza thinks there weren’t many other deciding factors given the canceled season, and that using GPA was a last resort.

Diaz believes that the decision to award scholarships tied to GPA is fair because of the importance of balancing sports and academics.

“Some or most scholarships revolve around being an athlete, but also most importantly being a student,” Diaz said. “Having good grades and being a strong and outstanding athlete shows the dedication you have for both your sport and future.”

Kristal Espinoza plans to transfer to California State University, Los Angeles and hopes to try out for their basketball team. Samantha Diaz plans to transfer to Chico State University and will pursue a degree in Biology.

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