It was only a matter of time.
The Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, which has been played in Grand Junction every year since 1959, is officially on hiatus until 2021.
On Monday, the National Junior College Athletic Association canceled the rest of the spring sports season, including national championships.
”It’s not unexpected,” said Jamie Hamilton, the tournament chairman. “Now as volunteers, we’re getting information out. We have a number of people who renewed their reserved seating, so we need to start the process of getting their dollars back to them.
“I’m more disappointed with the impact it’s going to have on a number of people who help us, the security people who volunteer their time for their organization and we give them a small stipend, the Little League teams that sell JUCO programs so they can raise some dollars so they can go to their tournaments. It’s going to leave a mark on a lot of people.”
Coaches spent Monday meeting with or texting their players to give them the news.
“Just as much as they’re sitting here with a blank stare and palms up, so am I,” Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said. “There’s not a manual for this. There wasn’t a manual for the NCAA or the NJCAA or any individual school. You’re trying to not be hasty in a decision but yet the number one thing is everyone’s lives and you’re trying to be careful and trying to do the right thing.”
Chipola College (Florida) coach Jeff Johnson sent his players home last weekend once the NJCAA suspended play until April 3, so he was calling and texting them Monday to let them know to stay put.
“I think we did it the right way,” Johnson said of the NJCAA delaying its decision as long as possible. “People were complaining about (the NCAA) cancelling in March something that’s played in June (the College World Series). We were doing our due diligence to see if we can do it.”
The coaches understand what the tournament means to Grand Junction.
“The impact on Grand Junction, bringing all those people in and doing everything (for the teams),” Johnson said.
Like the NCAA, the NJCAA is granting another year of eligibility for athletes in spring sports.
“Some of my guys have signed to go (to four-year schools), some of them are supposed to be drafted, some of them haven’t signed yet and are sitting there in limbo,” said Rardin, who met with his sophomores Monday to discuss their options.
Getting a year back is the only good thing about losing this season, Johnson said.
“We told them you’ve gotten 27 games, 27 games of experience and it didn’t cost you a year academically if you sign (with a four-year school) or want to come back,” he said. “Will they all stay? Who knows what will happen?”
Once Rardin gets equipment checked in and players on their way home, he’s not sure what to do, joking that his wife’s concerned about his first spring break in 25 years.
“It’s a good time to be in Marianna, Florida,” Johnson said. “We’ve got rivers, lakes and creeks. You can go off by yourself or with your family. I’ve been mowing the yard and working in the yard. Two days of that ... I want to go back to work.”