Although the pandemic has delayed fall sports, athletes and coaches are still preparing for their upcoming sports. Many students have been training on their own or at private facilities, and coaches have been thinking and talking to other coaches about how to keep practices safe for everyone.
“As a football coach, I am trying to think of ways to be creative and make adjustments to practice plans. It won’t be perfect, but I’m thinking about what are some ways I can minimize exposure,” stated head football coach Denny Molzen.
“[Training] is very simple; I just run and then wear a mask if I see anyone nearby,” explained Sophia Siopack, a varsity cross country senior.
“We get together at the field and go through some warm ups together then occasionally do footwork drills like ladders and cones. It is fun and keeps us working towards our goal of league champs this year,” said senior football player Cameron Cavillo.
CIF created a two season format for sports this year with the fall season starting in December and the spring season starting in March. This year fall sports include boys and girls volleyball, boys and girls water polo, cross country, cheer, and football, and they plan to begin practice Dec. 7.
Academic waivers and physicals have both been adjusted to fit the unique circumstances of the year. Schools are able to extend the waiver requirement to apply for sports as distance learning may present new challenges for students who usually can do better. All athletes will still need a physical signed by their doctor, but there is a 30 day grace period where they can play their sport without a physical.
In order to have a season, the state must allow groups of certain numbers to gather. Professional and college sports have already been allowed to start, so high schools are most likely next. After the state approves, individual counties and the school boards and districts will need to make the decision if they allow sports to meet or not.
Many people hope that if sports are cleared to play, all sports will be allowed to meet and that as many student athletes are able to play and that teams will still be as large as they have been in the past, but they are also wary of the risks it would present.
“I understand that some sports like golf have less of a risk, but if you only allow certain sports, then you don’t give an opportunity for all athletes to play,” Molzen commented. “My opinion is let’s give as many students the opportunity to play as many sports as possible.”
“As a senior, I really want to go back and have my last seasons, but the reality of it is scary, and I’m not sure our school is ready,” said Siopack.
On Oct. 14, the Castro Valley school board voted to extend distance learning until at least January before rediscussing the possibility of opening schools again. Even though schools will not be open, there is still a chance that fall sports will be able to start Dec. 7 as other states have sports without in-person school. It is even possible that athletics could be used as a guideline for reopening schools.
“If things don’t work out, I understand, but I hope they give our students, especially our seniors, the chance to try [to play] and give a sense of normalcy. It’s a huge opportunity to improve mental and physical health and to use to help reopen schools,” Molzen said.
Each sport will have to have different requirements and new safety rules that coaches didn’t have to think about before, however the games themselves will most likely remain the same. What will heavily change is the locker rooms, the sidelines, transportation, and practices and drills.
“If we are to have a season, we need to put in place the right protocol such as training in pod, taking temperatures, having extra masks and sanitizers available,” cross country coach Rachel Lunt said.
Molzen hopes that all athletes will get to have a season this year, but students need to sacrifice other things and practice good safety measures for it to happen.
“I hope our seniors and all our athletes get to participate and compete, be around coaches, friends, and teammates, and play on courts and fields. I hope that they social distance, wear a mask, and practice proper hygiene. If they’re not doing those things we don’t get to play,” said Molzen.