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From a Pandemic’s Grip, Champions Emerge

InstitutionsLa Sierra UniversityFrom a Pandemic’s Grip, Champions Emerge
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On April 11, excitement exploded on the field and ricocheted almost immediately around social media: The La Sierra University Golden Eagles women’s soccer team won the title against No. 1 seed UC Merced Bobcats, their first championship since the program’s inception in 2016.

The Golden Eagles finished 1-0 to sit atop the California Pacific Conference, one of 21 member conferences in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA.

“To bring the first championship [to the home field], …it was surreal. It was great,” commented Women’s Soccer Head Coach David Trevino. “A night I will probably never forget.” Trevino, a La Sierra alumnus, has led and built the women’s soccer program since its beginning.

Senior Marisol Bravo, a defender, recalled the exhilaration of the moment. “Everyone was crying; I was crying for sure. It was a really nice moment; it was exciting,” she said.

The conference win propelled the team to opening rounds of nationals in Santa Barbara, Calif., where on April 15 they lost by one point to the Westmont College Mountaineers. Their appearance was a memorable achievement given the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public health mandates shuttered operations of all schools in the state beginning in March 2020. The university’s nine varsity sports teams—men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, volleyball, softball, and baseball—faced varying degrees of disruption. The cross-country program was sidelined for the year, and on-campus team practices for other sports were delayed and then repeatedly shut down when COVID cases surged in the region. Conference play and championships were also moved up in the season by months.

The athletics department, under the leadership of Athletics Director Javier Krumm, last year created detailed pandemic protocols that affected training, practice, and game play. Through an online system, the department also kept track of grades and worked with advisors to help guide and support students.

In April, Bravo placed among second team All Team Cal Pac Conference Recognitions, one of several awards for Golden Eagles women’s soccer. She recalled the difficult days when players were trying to work out on their own at home, motivated by physical activity assignments, use of online athletics apps, and daily information from Trevino.

Meanwhile, as numbers of vaccinations increase and COVID cases decrease, re-opening decisions for fall are underway at La Sierra University.
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By Darla Martin Tucker

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