Originally published in La Plaza Press
By MIA ARANDA
Student-athletes and coaches have been anxiously awaiting the resumption of high school sports following the cancellation of the spring sports season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is required that if sports teams practice in person, they wear a mask if possible, minimize the sharing of equipment, and maintain a distance of at least six feet apart when applicable.
Redlands Unified School District recently transitioned into phase one of returning to athletic participation on Oct. 1. Student-athletes must complete the online athletic clearance process and sign a pledge to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. As for coaches, they must also sign the pledge and are required to complete COVID-19 online training.
Guidelines for phase one of returning to athletic practices include the following: outdoor conditioning only, ten or less per conditioning group, no equipment usage, six feet social distancing with masks, no spectators or media, and masks must be worn unless conditioning with proper social distancing at nine feet.
As a result of high school sports seasons being pushed back to January, three seasons had to be condensed into two. Fall sports for this year include football, water polo, volleyball, cross country and cheer with each following differing guidelines.
For example, water polo may use the pool facilities, but each lane is limited to only one swimmer with each person in every other lane going in the opposite direction.
In addition, cheer is prohibited from vocalizing chants and volleyball must conduct practice outdoors at this time.
Redlands East Valley football team practices consist of bodyweight conditioning exercises, such as upper, lower and full-body movements, footwork and agility drills, plyometrics and sprints.
Redlands East Valley head football coach Richard Lunsford times his players as they do sprint intervals on Oct. 20. Coaches wear masks the entire time and athletes are advised to put theirs on when practice ends. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)
“Being able to start these small group conditioning sessions has definitely given us a little ray of sunshine in the darkness that has lurked over us since this pandemic has begun,” said Richard Lunsford, head REV football coach. “I have high hopes for this upcoming season, but we will know much more in the weeks to come as the data continues to come in to health officials and we hopefully see the number of cases decrease.”
Prior to starting in-person practices, REV football engaged in virtual group workouts. Players now express their exhilaration to begin in-person training once again.
Football player Noah Sorenson, REV senior, said, “I am obviously very excited to be beginning practice. The situation as you know isn’t ideal and being able to have fun and stay safe is an incredible undertaking for anyone.”
“These things aren’t easy but the steps we take now will allow us to go back to normal,” continues Sorenson. “Here at REV our practices consist of conditioning and only conditioning which for now is fine because many of us need the help, but I do hope soon we will be able to follow the footsteps of both the NFL and college football in having regular practices and games, of course while keeping social distancing in mind.”
Redlands East Valley football players engage in conditioning exercises during modified practices on Oct. 20. Athletes were distanced at least six feet apart from each other on the baselines of the basketball courts. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)
REV junior Zachary Mendieta, a fellow teammate of Sorenson, said, “It’s definitely different than what we are all used to but I feel as if the transition went smoothly with how bad everyone just wanted to be back out on the field. I know that all of my teammates were so eager to be back to in-person practices that we just did anything that was told by administration.”
Mendieta recalls, “I even missed practices for a little head cold so I wouldn’t risk getting our sports shut down, and pre-COVID, I would always go for a little sickness like that.”
If a staff member or student does contract COVID-19, they are required to inform their school site so that RUSD Risk Management can determine the following steps.
Until then, all coaches and athletes must abide by requisite protocols concerning the safety of everyone at practices.
Lunsford closes football practice on Oct. 20 by reminding his players “you know the drill when you leave” followed by a collective response from his players: “masks on!”