Last Wednesday’s announcement from Your Sports Network (YSN) and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) came as no surprise to Amy Alvarez, the first year Athletic Director at Technology High School. Just like men’s soccer coach Fatima Worden, Alvarez was preparing for the worst. The worst came on July 20.
According to the YSN/CIF, sports games will not debut until January 2021 and fall sports will not be allowed to officially practice until December 14. When sports come back in December, it will have been about nine months since the athletes last played a game. This is something unforeseen and will hopefully never be experienced again.
“I don’t think the news came as a surprise to anyone,” Alvarez said. “The first priority for everyone is keeping people safe while also giving kids the opportunity to get out there and compete in the sport they love.”
This news really puts the athletic programs of Rancho Cotate, Technology High School and Credo High School in a bind. Athletic Directors and coaches want to keep their kids safe, but also not lose sight of the goals at hand for the upcoming season. Balancing these two will be a task for anyone.
For those who are not up to speed, YSN and CIF put out joint statements saying that sports will not resume until December because safety is the number one priority, while also noting there will only be two seasons, fall and spring. Because of this there will be some overlap where certain athletes who play multiple sports might have to choose one because they would be played at the same time. For example, someone who plays soccer and baseball would have to choose between the two instead of going from one to the other.
The fall sports will be Boys and Girls Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Gymnastics, Traditional Competitive Cheer, Volleyball (Boys and Girls) and Water Polo (Boys and Girls). These sports will debut officially on December 14 of 2020.
For spring sports the list is quite lengthy: Badminton, Baseball, Basketball (Boys and Girls), Competitive Sport Cheer (Stunt), Golf (Boys and Girls), Lacrosse (Boys and Girls), Soccer (Boys and Girls), Softball, Swimming (Boys and Girls), Tennis (Boys and Girls), Track and Field (Co-ed) and Wrestling (Boys and Girls).
One season in particular that was disrupted was Rancho Cotate Women’s Volleyball. Head Coach Jeff Bradshaw said the girls had started conditioning about a month ago, all outside since they weren’t allowed indoors.
“Since we couldn’t go inside, all the training we did was outdoors in groups of 10 or less,” Bradshaw said. “So we didn’t get a chance to do any individual skills type training, it was all outdoor conditioning.”
When sports start back up, it will be interesting to see how much this delay affects the athletes, especially a team like Rancho Girl’s Volleyball. Remember this is a team who made the NCS Playoffs last year and were hoping to win a playoff game this year. Bradshaw said this is his most experienced team yet, so this is a tough situation for everyone involved. This setback will test all the athletes’ mental toughness.
Another huge factor of sports is the crowd. High school sports is the pinnacle of this. Community members remember the home football games at Rancho Cotate last year and how electric the atmosphere was. With the pandemic happening, it’s a possibility there will not be any fans able to attend. None of the professional sports have fans and won’t have fans for the foreseeable future, at least in the US.
When asked about this, Bradshaw said it was going to be a change but if it comes to having no fans Bradshaw is planning a special treat for everyone.
“I think everyone is kind of looking at what pro sports are doing right now to see how it’s going to work and how it’s all going to play out,” Bradshaw said. “That was something we actually discussed, was the possibility of no spectators. Of course, the girls would love to have their families there to participate and enjoy, but we understand that having people in an enclosed space may not be the best idea.”
Bradshaw mentioned the idea of live streaming the match if there are no fans. He says his hope is that we will make enough headway where the fans could participate, but if not, community members might have to be tech savvy and watch the games on Livestream.
The main thing mentioned by Alvarez during her interview was safety. As the athletic director and teacher it’s her responsibility to be transparent with both the parents and students to keep them safe. She said if any team conditioning has a positive test or someone is feeling sick, they would shut down practice to make sure it doesn’t spread.
“One of my priorities as athletic director is to be proactive with my communication,” Alvarez said. “That means getting the information out to the parents quickly and keep them updated.” One thing remains clear, some people will view the current news as a setback while others will view it as an opportunity. Alvarez, in particular, believes in the kids she has and believes they will use this as an opportunity and push through adversity.
“Kids are resilient, they are going to make it out the other side of this and continue to surprise us,” Alvarez said.
Community members should take the advice of the high school athletes. Be grateful for the opportunities, even during this pandemic, to see those you love and care about because the only way the county will get through this is if everyone bands together. If community members band together they will make it out the other side and get to enjoy sports once again.