Athletics & Recreation Trailblazing Return to Campus

March 31, 2021

By Susan W Harriman, Director of Athletics & Recreation 

Alyssa Yee ('24) tees off at Texas Cup 2021 hosted by the University of Texas, Dallas during March of 2021. To learn more about the Women's Golf team and UC Santa Cruz Athletics, please visit
Tandem kayakers enjoy Monterey Bay at sunset. Kayak tours of Monterey Bay are now available for reservation throughout spring quarter. Visit to learn more.

It has been 12 months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced our UC Santa Cruz Athletics and Recreation Department to shift its entire operation from live action to virtual steadfastness. Many of our Banana Slug student-athletes persevered through losing competitive seasons by focusing on their academic progress and personal health and wellness. The work is paying off with more than 100 student-athletes earning Dean’s List honors so far this academic year. Virtual health and wellness programs have been a beacon of success for all Banana Slugs this year through virtual and on-demand group exercise, the inaugural McHenry Cup College Challenge, behavioral first responder certifications, esports, and of course the countless virtual meetings to stay connected with our students.

Now, the time has come to begin implementing return to play for our students, faculty, and staff. Working within University, NCAA, and California Department of Public Health guidelines, the UC Santa Cruz return to play plan is being conducted with safety as the number one priority closely followed by facilitating live, in-person experiences whenever possible for all Banana Slug students, staff, and faculty. The Athletics return to play plan is aligned with the announcement that the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) Board of Directors have confirmed plans to proceed with spring sport competitions and championships as scheduled. 

Under the supervision of UC Santa Cruz sports medicine staff, teams began practicing in mid-February under extensive safety protocols in place for ensuring the health and safety of our student-athletes and coaching staff: Women's Golf was the first UC Santa Cruz team to compete since COVID-19 forced suspension of all in-person activities in spring of 2020 and finished in second place at both the Texas Cup in Plano, Texas and Bulldog Invite in Redlands, California. 

"We have a really good team stacked with top notch grades and low golf scores. I can’t wait to show them off,” said golf head coach Paulette Pera. Men’s Volleyball, Track & Field, and Swimming & Diving teams are also planning for spring competitions. "I know our student-athletes are excited and really appreciate the opportunity to represent the Banana Slugs again this year," said David Klech, Track & Field Head Coach.   

While Banana Slugs Athletics continues preparation for competition, recreational programs are beginning to revive activity as well. Lap swimming and tennis at the East Tennis Courts are available by reservation. The jogging path, disc golf course, outdoor exercise gym, and West Tennis Courts are available for drop in use. As part of the spring break staycation campaign championed by multiple departments and divisions on campus, Adventure Rec proudly operated the first kayak tours of Monterey Bay and campus day hikes in over 12 months and will continue these offerings during spring quarter. Lap swimming and tennis reservations will become available for faculty and staff with Slug Recreation Memberships on April 19. The Boating Center is also preparing to make the docks available for programming with programs for students, faculty, and staff becoming available on May 17. 

FitLife and Intramural Sports programs will continue to offer virtual programming through the spring quarter. Simultaneously, preparations continue for the eventual return to in-person programming. Sport Clubs organizations are also working together with professional staff to begin the return to in-person play. A COVID-19 protocol has been developed for Sport Clubs. In addition to the established registration processes for these organizations, each student organization will need to follow these new protocols. Student leadership will consult with Sport Clubs administrative staff and Sports Medicine staff to determine the safest and most appropriate guidelines to implement prior to scheduling and execution of practices. Ultimately, each Sport Clubs organization is being assessed individually by professional staff and student leadership for when the club will be able to begin returning to in-person activity.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about our path forward. It is important we all stay the course by continuing to follow COVID safety guidelines and taking the earliest opportunity to get vaccinated. 

Go Slugs,

Susan W. Harriman

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