The Omicron surge is causing multiple cancellations and schedule changes for Long Beach State athletics this week. The men’s and women’s Big West Conference games have been canceled due to positive tests within their opponents’ programs, and the men’s volleyball season has been delayed until Jan. 14 because of positive tests within the Beach program.
“In some ways it feels like we’re in the same space, but at the same time, science has changed which allows for some improvements in terms of what we can or can’t do so things have gotten better,” LBSU Athletic Director Andy Fee said.
Last year at this time, positive tests shut down the teams and their practices for more than a week. This year, smaller groups of athletes who have tested negative can still participate in team activities after teammates have tested positive.
“There’s still the frustration and a little bit of anger because this group as a whole has worked extremely hard to do the right things, get their vaccines, get their booster shots… We’ve had quite a good run so far of keeping people healthy and not having any serious side effects,” Fee said.
Both men’s and women’s basketball teams haven’t had a positive test since Dec. 21, but collectively have had 10 games canceled due to COVID protocols.
“We can’t control Fullerton or Hawaii, but what we can control is what we do and how we respond to it,” Fee said. “I thought the response was great (Tuesday). I know they’re not happy but they’re being really mature about it. They understand this is a pandemic and even when you think you do all of the right things sometimes people get sick.”
LBSU men’s basketball has added a home game against Westcliff on Wednesday to get back on the floor together for the first time since Dec. 12. The Beach is actively trying to add other nonleague games to stay sharp.
“This group of athletes have gained a lot of perspective over the last year,” Fee said. “There is disappointment, but they’re ready to respond and see what’s next. I’m really amazed by how resilient the coaches and athletes have been.”
Get hyped for Men’s Volleyball! The season starts this week so we caught up with Alan Knipe for a major preview and talked a little Omicron, which has never been more timely!
The only piece of good news for LBSU basketball this week was senior forward Maddi Utti being named Big West Conference Player of the Week.
Utti scored 20 points in the conference opening win over CSU Bakersfield while adding eight rebounds, five steals, three blocks and two assists.
LBSU (9-1, 2-0) is currently first in the Big West standings.
The Beach announced its 2022 schedule this week and it once again features trips to some of the toughest tournaments in the nation. There are nine opponents on the schedule who were ranked in the final 2021 poll.
LBSU starts at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Mexico against ranked opponents Washington and Arkansas, and will play powerhouse Arizona twice at the Hillenbrand Invitational the following week.
The Beach will also face Oklahoma, BYU, Texas Tech and Oregon in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City in February.
The Big West schedule starts on Mar. 19 at UC Riverside, and concludes on May 14 at Cal State Fullerton. LBSU swept the Titans on the final weekend of the season last year to win the conference title.
Addition To The Department
Frank Ramirez has been hired as the new Director of Sports Performance. He was the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach from 2010-2016 before serving as the Director of Sports Performance at Biola for six years.
“At Biola University, Frank was able to build a program from the ground up and we look to him to use the skills and knowledge he learned there to elevate the Sports Performance Program here,” said LBSU Associate Director of Student-Athlete Wellness, Sports Medicine Jarrod Spanjer. “We felt Frank’s vision and leadership skills aligned with how we are trying to enhance the student-athlete experience.”
“The Beach has always been home to me and I’m excited to be a part of an athletics department that I care so much about,” Ramirez said.