Delano High School students were constantly checking their phones for social media updates late last month as they awaited the California Interscholastic Federation to announce its decision regarding high school sports for the 2020-21 school year.
High school students were unsure if sports were going to be cancelled for the year or if they were going to be postponed till the winter.
On July 20, there was a collective social media sigh of relief when the CIF announced in a statement that it anticipates all Fall sports to resume in December 2020.
“The California Interscholastic Federation has determined, in collaboration with our 10 Sections, that education-based athletics for the 2020-2021 school year will begin with a modified season of sport schedule,” the statement said.
As expected, this announcement excited many athletes.
“I’ve played football since I was a little kid and knowing that there will be a season after all with everything going on, I’m grateful for that,” said Cesar E. Chavez High Senior Evian Garza. “Although it may not be a complete season, I still get to walk out there one more time as a senior.”
CIF said it continues to monitor 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.
The California Department of Public Health released guidance on youth sports earlier this month for counties, allowing youth sports training, conditioning, and physical education to resume statewide under specific circumstances. Youth sports and physical education are allowed only when physical distancing of at least six feet and a stable cohort of participants can be maintained.
Because Kern County is on the State’s monitoring list, these activities are only allowed outdoors, according to Kern County Public Health. However, outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies, and other activities that require close contact or that would promote congregating, such as tournaments and competitions, are not allowed at this time.
Robert F. Kennedy High Sophomore Emiliano Herrejon said he believes sports often act as an outlet for young athletes. Athletics can help youth with their mental health, socialization and teamwork skills.
Herrejon, a football player, said some of his friends and former athletes have begun to partake in activities that will only hurt them during the absence of athletics.
“I feel that if we had sports, they wouldn’t have gone down that road,” he said. “It sucks to see this because football is a brotherhood to us, and we all love the sport…But in the end, it’s a reasonable call from CIF because our family and our safety is important.”
Robert F. Kennedy Athletic Director Valerie Rodarte agrees.
“I would love for students to be able to play because it’s important for the youth, community, and families to be able to have that outlet,” she said.
Rodarte said it’s going to be hard to plan for this year’s athletic schedule, as everything remains uncertain with the pandemic.
“Depending on how the next few months go, that will determine if we can practice and compete,” said Rodarte. “If all goes according to plan, there will be a protocol developed.”
Protocols could include taking athletes’ temperatures at practices and games and social distancing, according to Rodarte; however, social distancing isn’t possible in all sports.
“If we are still mandated (to social distance), then some sports can’t happen,” she said.
For this upcoming school year, spring and winter sports will be combined at the Delano Joint Union High School District, according to Rodarte. Student athletes who normally play both spring and winter sports will potentially play only one of the two sports. Rodarte said playing two sports at one time leaves for greater possibilities of a player getting injured.
“Those athletes who are all around players will experience overlapping seasons,” she said. “It is possible, but can be very stressful for those individuals.”
Cesar E. Chavez High Sophomore Danielle Mosqueda is especially excited to partake in sports this year because she recently transferred, forcing her to sit out of sports for a year, as it is Delano Joint Union High School District’s protocol.
“It’s very exciting, but at the same time nerve wracking due to my lack of high school sports experience from the one-year sit-out rule my freshman year,” Mosqueda said. “I just can’t wait to get back out there.”
Kim Ruiz has two children in the district who hope to play sports this school year.
“This decision to postpone the sports is a good one,” said Ruiz. “I think it’s the best scenario for the kids given the circumstances. I’m just happy that my son will get to have a football season at all.”
Rodarte emphasized that safety and health of the students come first. She advises students and staff to do their part by wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands to get numbers down so there can be a season.
She said, “I would rather be safe than sorry.”