With virus ebbing, high school sports inches closer to reality
WHITTIER — With all of the excitement of the NFL and college sports beginning to start up, the local high schools will start to gear up soon and finally bring back live action.
Since the middle of March, high school sports have been shut down due to the pandemic. However, with the July announcement by the CIF-Southern Section, the revised 2020-21 seasons finally have target dates for action.
Administrators, coaches and players have been waiting for this date for months.
The traditional three-season schedule has been reduced to two seasons – “fall” and “spring”. (Listed below are the fall sports and the first day of competition).
“Our sports calendar is in place,” said CIF-Southern Section Commissioner, Rob Wigod, on the initial broadcast of “CIF This Week.” “It’s going to be in place as it is.
“We’re going to see what develops over the next few months. If we get to a point where we are moving toward December, and we’re seeing that things have not improved enough and our schools aren’t able to get back to athletic programs, and I think we can still monitor that situation up to and into the month of January, we’ll be somewhere towards the end of January where a decision would have to be made whether we can proceed or not.”
Wigod continued and said what no one really wants to hear.
“There won’t be a situation where we would change the calendar at that point,” Wigod said. “I think we would only have to get to the point of saying that we would have to cancel that season of sport.”
Cancelling is not what anyone wants to hear, but it’ll be a wait and see situation until the date gets closer.
Four sports – boys and girls cross country, field hockey, boys and girls volleyball and boys and girls water polo – will all start in late December, while football and gymnastics start after the first of the year.
The spring season begins in March. Those sports are: badminton, baseball, boys and girls basketball, softball, track and field, boys and girls golf, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls swimming and diving, boys and girls tennis and boys and girls wrestling.
“This year has definitely been unique in how we plan for the upcoming fall season,” John Glenn Athletic Director Linda Parra said. “Schedules had to be adjusted, recreated and submitted to officials and transportation departments.
“It’s a time where you see schools being flexible with one another, accommodating when needed and everyone seems to have the same attitude in that we will get through this school year together.”
With students not yet on campus, starting sports would seem to still be in limbo, but the start date is set, unless there is a big change in the outbreak.
“The biggest challenge we face is the uncertainty of what the next few months ahead will look like in regards to students being allowed to return to campus,” Parra added.
“I know coaches and players are anxious to return, but ultimately we want to make sure we can provide a safe environment for everyone.
“Our goal at John Glenn is to take this time to get the students to complete their athletic clearance process and make sure all of our coaches are ready to go when we are given the green light to begin Phase 1 Conditioning.”
One difficult task will be the same season for girls and boys volleyball and girls and boys water polo. Scheduling has already changed from earlier in the year before the season was pushed back.
Below, six coaches from Whittier, Cal High, La Mirada and John Glenn all weighed in on how they are preparing for the season.
Mike Moschetti, La Mirada Football coach: “These kids have really been through a lot and want to be back in school and playing sports. I’m not throwing a lot of X’s and O’s at them right now. The kids just want to be together. Our principal (Lisa Reed) and AD (Christine Meade) are working hard to get us back playing. I’m really trying to believe it’s (the season) going to happen. Our goal is to get the kids out there on the field. We’re not allowed to have conditioning and a lot of team building right now. On Zoom, I just want the kids to get to know each other. They have had to grow up with everything.
Michael Ledford, Whittier Girls Volleyball coach: “I’m super excited just to get back. Hopefully, very, very soon. All of us coaches miss them dearly. As for the boys and girls teams’, our league (Del Rio) is very thoughtful, in that they are going to be playing together (on the same day).
“We’re scheduling all of our preseason matches, but some schools don’t have either a boys or girls team. Our boys coach (Dynesha O’Bard) will be doing some driving. It’s definitely not been an ideal situation. Scheduling will be a challenge.”
“Ledford has 80-90 kids interested in volleyball and only has four coaches. Conditioning will also be a challenge, as they will only be able to gather in groups (pods) of 10.”
Daniel Reyes, John Glenn girls and boys volleyball coach: “I would say it’s easier for us, as I coach boys’ volleyball too. In a way, I can incorporate them having practice at the same time. Most of my lower level coaches also help me out with the boys. In a way it makes it easier because the boys can come in with the girls practice and the boys can stay after for their practice and the girls can join in if they want to put in some extra work. They will be getting a lot more reps than normal seasons, I guess.
“With COVID, it’s a negative because we’re not able to be around kids as much right now. If we have a season, by the time the district Okays us to practice and CIF allows it, I feel we wouldn’t have as much time to prepare for the season if COVID wasn’t happening. We’re not sure when we can practice yet. It could be at the drop of a dime.
“We have our group chats and we put together a work out for them. Some of them would send me film, etc. We then give them a few pointers of what they are doing.”
Aaron Valdovinos, Cal High boys water polo coach: “It’s my first year being the head coach of this team and with the girls team, I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen with them yet. I’ll have a later practice for the boys and I’ll have a structure for both teams if I help them out.”
Note: Former Cal girls coach, Davey Brown, just recently left the program to join the Army. Brown, along with his assistant coach (Aaron Valdovinos), last season, led the team to the 2020 CIF Championship. “If I would still have been there (Cal High), it would have been a little hectic, but my assistant coach (Aaron) would have stepped up to help. They basically helped me with both programs.”
Visko Ancich, Whittier High Football coach: “The district still hasn’t cleared us to start (conditioning). I’m hoping they will let us start in October. The tough part is everyone wants the kids to be out there – it’s a mental health issue. It’s now an emotional factor. The kids, who are all getting fidgety, needed to go back to school emotionally.
“Hell Week” for us on the football field is going to be during Christmas. Those two weeks is when they will be taking finals. Practice will be limited so they can study for finals. The best gift you can open is your locker!
“When a kid says he’s going to play football, it’s a family commitment. This whole thing is upside down. We won’t have any lights (Whittier HS) to practice after school. These are things that we take for granted. It comes down to you just want to get them in a game. It is a very unique season. I wish somebody had the answers. There are so many ramifications that can happen. It’s frustrating – everyone is in the same boat. We just want to go to the next step. It’s going to force a heck of a lot of competition between coaches. Football is a great unifier.”
Ronnie Cruz, Cal High boys volleyball coach: “We’ve been doing two zoom conference calls and/or workouts plus volleyball, weekly for Cal High. We are on an app to help track our working out, outside of the zoom stuff we do. The boys turn in a quote discussion form weekly, which is pretty awesome. At the end of each discussion form, the boys have to list 5 things they’re grateful for. It’s important to be reminded of the things that are big or small in our lives that we are just blessed with.
“The boys are absolutely looking forward to working out with the rest of the boys. I know there are many restrictions we will need to follow, which is fine with me, as long as these kids can get out and interact with their peers in a safe and positive environment. I’m just so excited about boys volleyball starting on December 12th, because this will be something new for us. I hope that we continue to open things up safely to get back to some normality.”
Boys/Girls Cross Country – First contest, Dec. 26
Field Hockey – First contest, Dec. 18
11-Man Football – First contest, Jan. 8, 2021
8-Man Football – First contest, Jan. 8, ‘21
Gymnastics – First contest, Jan. 4
Boys Volleyball – First contest, Dec. 12
Girls Volleyball – First contest, Dec. 19
Boys Water Polo – First contest, Dec. 21
Girls Water Polo – First contest, Dec. 28