Grizzly Volleyball, Basketball to start competitive season in spring 2021
Area fans of Grizzly Athletics at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) will still be able to see their favorite teams in action. They’ll just have to wait until the 2021 spring semester.
Officials with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) this week announced an updated plan of action for 2020-2021, which moves the majority of competition to spring.
This means that both the Grizzly Volleyball and Grizzly Basketball teams will play their seasons during the 2021 spring semester.
“The effort of putting together a thoughtful plan of action by the NJCAA leadership staff, Presidential Advisory Council and the Board of Regents has resulted in good, solid decisions moving forward,” said Paula Wiedemann, athletic director and Grizzly Volleyball head coach.
“With the start of the fall seasons right around the corner, there were still many concerns institutional administrators were struggling to deal with. The major changes that occurred during the spring semester and with institutions preparing to welcome students back to their campuses, the focus needed to be on making decisions that put the student-athletes’ health and well-being first and foremost,” she added.
“With the shift in the volleyball and basketball competitive seasons moving to spring, we can focus on getting our athletes on campus and comfortable with how the fall practice season will play out,” Wiedemann said. “We are looking forward to not only the training time with our players, but helping them get on solid ground academically during the fall semester.
“This season will feel unlike any we have experienced; however we are excited to have the opportunity to compete still in front of us, and for West Plains hosting the NJCAA DI National Volleyball Championships,” she added.
According to the plan outlined by the NJCAA, court volleyball teams at all division levels can begin practices Jan. 11. A maximum of 21 competition dates will begin on Jan. 29.
All regular season, region and district championship games should be completed by April 3, and the NJCAA Volleyball Championships for each division will be held April 15-17. This includes the Division I championship scheduled to be held in West Plains this season.
Basketball teams at all division levels can begin practices Jan. 11. A maximum of 22 competition dates will begin on Jan. 22. All regular season, region and district championship games should be completed by April 10. The NJCAA Basketball Championships will begin April 19.
“We are having to work through many obstacles of both teams playing their seasons at the same time. We typically do not have much overlap, but we are working together to create the best possible schedule for both teams,” Wiedemann said.
“It will take a couple of weeks to get the details of what our non-region/non-conference competition will look like. Some regions/conferences may go to region/conference competition only, which could make things more difficult in finding opponents who will schedule. Some regions may put limitations on travel for their teams, so we have a lot to work through before we have something to share with our Grizzly fans,” she added.
“We are also working as a region to finalize our Region 16 regular season schedule. We do have one weekend we are working on hosting a volleyball tournament at the West Plains Civic Center, and Coach (Jared) Phay (Grizzly Basketball head coach) is working to find quality opponents outside our region to schedule,” Wiedemann said.
“As with everything the past few months, it is a work in progress and we are starting from scratch. We will definitely send out information on our schedules once they are finalized,” she added.
Both teams can conduct fall practice seasons for 60 consecutive days. Volleyball practices must be held between Aug. 15 and Nov. 15, while basketball practices are to be held between Sept. 15 and Dec. 15.
Volleyball and basketball teams also are allowed five scrimmages for the year. Only two, however, can be held after Jan. 1. They’re also limited to no more than two outside opponents for those scrimmages.
“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” said Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA president and CEO in a press release. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place.
“As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful,” he added.
Season and individual game tickets will be available later this fall through the Grizzly Athletics website or from Drago College Store, Wiedemann said.
“Once we have our schedules set, we can begin working on the ticketing information. We love our Grizzly fans, and we will keep you informed as we go through this process,” she added.
For more information about the NJCAA’s plan of action, visit njcaa.org. For more information about Grizzly Athletics, visit msuwpgrizzlies.com.