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Prep sports pushed back to January

WHITTIER — Finally, a decision has been reached for high school sports.


After months of speculation, rumors and lots of talk among coaches, the CIF announced Monday that high school sports would return in late December.


And, the big news is the return of football, with the first game scheduled for Friday, Jan. 8.


The CIF-Southern Section also released the sports schedule, with the calendar broken up into two seasons: fall and spring.


Fall sports are boys/girls cross country, field hockey, football (8 and 11 man), gymnastics, competitive cheer, boys/girls volleyball and boys/girls water polo.


Spring sports are badminton, baseball, boys/girls basketball, competitive sport cheer, boys/girls golf, boys/girls lacrosse, boys/girls soccer, softball, boys/girls swimming and diving, boys/girls tennis, boys/girls track and field and boys/girls wrestling.


After a meeting with the commissioners from all 10 sections, Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod released a statement on the decision. The CIF-Southern Section is the largest in the state.


“From start to finish, the focus has been on how we can serve the young men and young women we are so fortunate to serve in the best way we possibly can, and I commend everyone involved for never wavering in their support of that philosophy,” Wigod said.

Pushing the calendar ahead five months was partly due to Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement last Friday that halted on-campus instruction in the counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list.


“The game-changer in all this is the ability for schools to be open,” he said.



The stadium at California High School is empty after the CIF ruling postponed the fall sports until January of 2021. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)


High school sports have been on hold since the middle of March and won’t restart until December 14, which is the first date for practice for Fall sports. That still gives almost five months before the start-up date.


The split seasons will continue into late June with the athletic calendar, the CIF State announced on its website.


“Obviously, CIF had to move things,” La Serna athletic Director Steve Hemenway said. “Scheduling is not going to be easy. It’s a lot of work.


“The hardest part is that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.”


Hemenway also emphasized about the decision some two-sport athletes will have to make on which to choose.


“When you’re interacting with two sports, that’s tough,” he said.


Whittier athletic director Jim Marilley said: “We have a plan and while it has its challenges, it is fantastic when one considers the alternative.


“If the numbers continue to rise, which is sadly expected by experts, then it is a plan only and not a guarantee of sports in 2020-’21.


“Hope is the operative word and we will plan accordingly.”


The Southern Section released the following reconstructed schedule:


Two Seasons – Fall and Spring – In examining the most effective way to deliver Fall, Winter and Spring sports for the 2020-2021 school year, the decision was made to condense three seasons of sport into two seasons of sport, primarily to help with the spacing between particular sports and the overlap of certain sports between seasons.


Length of Regular Seasons – Regular seasons, some of which were 83 days (Soccer), 81 days (Basketball), 64 days (Football) and 57 days (Girls Volleyball) already had quite a range, in terms of the length of their seasons in previous years. We believe that to help with the overlap of seasons, affecting student-athletes, coaches and facilities, we would standardize the length of the regular seasons to approximately 72 days, for those who previously had more days than that, while leaving the others with less than 72 days alone. In doing so, we would help with the issues mentioned, but keep in mind that we are not imposing any reduction on the maximum number of allowable contests, per CIF Bylaw 1206, in any sport. The total number of days in some sports will be reduced, approximately 5%-12%, but schools can still play the same number of maximum allowable contests, if they choose, in that smaller window.


Section Championships – The 2020-2021 sports calendar includes full Section Championship experiences, which means the same number of champions in each sport, the same number of divisions in each sport and the same number of guaranteed entries from leagues advancing to the playoffs in each sport, as in previous years.


CIF Regional/State Championships – The CIF State Office has made the decision to streamline the CIF Regional and CIF State Championships competitions/tournaments to no longer than one week, once our Southern Section Championships have concluded. More details on format, dates, etc., will be forthcoming from the CIF State Office.


The CIF State office added the following in its release:


“We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront.”


In addition, the CIF has suspended any outside competition for the 2020-21 school year.



The stadium at California High School is empty after the CIF ruling postponed the fall sports until January of 2021. (Photo by Keith Durflinger)


What they said:

Cal High boys volleyball coach, Ronnie Cruz: “It’s kind of scary, with us getting moved up almost three months ahead of routine, but I’m glad this now gives the boys, coaching staff, and I an opportunity to plan accordingly. I’m sure issues will arise with boys and girls volleyball competing during the same season, but if boys and girls basketball can do it, so can we.


“This past season for boys volleyball, we had a varsity, junior varsity, and frosh/soph team. We anticipate having all three this coming season, so hopefully, in regards to scheduling, we might be able to do what basketball does by having both programs with all three levels competing between the two schools, at least for league play. I’m excited as I can imagine the boys are as well even with the challenges, obstacles, and the current COVID-19 situation has in store for us.”


La Serna cross country coach: “I’m grateful CIF is giving us some sort of season. It was difficult to just shut down and lose out of all last spring. Cross country has some particular challenges with literally no break between cross country and track.


“CIF Finals for cross country is on the same weekend as the first allowed contest for track. This makes for six months or more of a competitive season. Imagine this for any other sport. Almost as much as a pro baseball season.


“Two seasons of sports will be tough on secondary sports like track and field. Athletes will have to choose. With soccer, basketball, tennis, cheer and other sports which we draw athletes from for track at the same time, will have an impact on numbers. It also may be tough to convince athletes from the first season to transition right into track.”

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