By JASMINE ROSALES, LILY SHAW & MIYAH SANBORN
After the pandemic became worldwide, mandatory quarantine was announced to ensure the safety of others. This included schools and various businesses having to close down last year in March 2020. The school year was definitely cut short due to COVID-19 cases, along with school events such as dances, meets and sports.
Fast forward nearly a year later, school has been online ever since and trying their best to get everything back to normal safely. Many student athletes were taken back by distance learning, leading to many missed seasons. Administrators have been working very thoroughly and patiently to get the athletics back and now, as of March 2021, sports have now been cleared to return.
Given the news, coaches are working hard to get their players back and in condition to play games. Tryout dates for the first week of March have already been announced. Prior to this announcement, many fall sports such as football, water polo, cross country and volleyball have been practicing and conditioning in hopes of being cleared to have a season. Football coaches across the county were expecting to hear the news as of March 1, so the early approval was exciting to many coaches.
Coach Rich Lunsford at Redlands East Valley High School said, “I was absolutely ecstatic! Mostly for the seniors, because they were freshmen when I took over the coaching job at REV, so we have been through this together over the last few years and they’re all like my children. I knew how much of an emotional toll the suspension of play had taken on them all and to see the joy and excitement they showed when it was announced they’d get a partial senior season was unbelievable.” Lunsford also says that after football was approved, he “reached out and talked with each and every one of [the] seniors to make sure they were in for this one last ride together as a family!”
Dakota Sta Ana, a freshman at Citrus Valley High School, says, “With sports finally being back, it’s giving me hope that everything is getting better and giving me that small bit of normalcy that everyone needs.”
During a hard game against Redlands High School, Dakota attempts to score a point for her team. Water polo is among one of the many sports that schools are planning to continue (Photo credit to Charmaine Sta Ana).
Since they were the first sports to begin practicing back in the fall, many teams have already had their first game and meet back since the start of COVID-19. Spring sports such as softball, baseball, basketball, swimming and track and field have also started holding tryouts.
Aidan Maldonado, a junior from CVHS, says, “Since sports like soccer have came back, I’ve felt that many people including myself are happy about it. Although a lot of us don’t like the restrictions, we’re still grateful for sports and the possibility of having actual league games in the near future.”
Soccer girls awaiting instructions after conditioning. Practices are conducted with extreme caution and safety to reduce COVID-19 cases (Photo credit to Allen Thoe).
All coaches have taken safety precautions in order to hold practice and play games. Before practices, coaches take the temperature of each player and space warm ups at least six feet apart. Players will wear a mask to ensure the safety of others and still practice social distancing. On and off the field, players will continue to practice with a mask on for the majority of the time. Players are constantly encouraged to follow the hygiene protocol: to always wash and sanitize their hands before, throughout and after practice.
“Sports practices have been really safe from a covid standpoint. The coach is very reasonable and fair with us choosing not to go to certain practices and he enforces the guidelines for our safety very strictly which I appreciate,” says Ariana Ghalambor, a senior at REV.
High intensity sports that include running, or even sports in the water may not wear a mask as it can become a breathing hazard for some. Along the lines of safety, sports like football or baseball will have players using their own gear to minimize the spread of germs.
While players are doing their best to stay safe, parents and guardians are as well. At games, the crowd may be a bit smaller than normal, meaning there will be a maximum of four spectators per player taking precautions and wearing a mask the entire game to ensure everyone’s safety.
Since sports seasons started late, the seasons may be a bit shorter than normal. However, because they are shorter, teams can still participate in tournaments to make up for lost games.
Ultimately, after a rough few months, things are starting to look up in the community as many establishments are slowly opening and restrictions are being lifted. Sports returning is just one of the many good things to come.