The first baby steps toward a resumption of high school athletics are being taken at schools all around the South Coast.
Bishop Diego High School got an early jump. It resumed phase one conditioning for football on Aug. 6 after a spike of COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County forced a three-week suspension of its July workouts.
The other high schools in Santa Barbara County are about to take the field, as well, although the CIF Southern Section has delayed the game schedule until January for football and mid-December for other sports.
Lompoc and Cabrillo received approval from the Lompoc Unified School District to start conditioning next Tuesday. Fall varsity sports at Santa Ynez High will begin workouts on Sept. 14, with lower-level programs starting on Sept. 28 and spring sports following on Oct. 12.
The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has set Sept. 21 as the starting date for Santa Maria, Righetti and Pioneer Valley.
The athletic directors at Santa Barbara, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos are still awaiting for a go signal. They plan to meet with district officials next week.
“The three Santa Barbara Unified schools have a plan in place for once we get the green light from the district, but not a set date just yet,” SBHS athletic director Todd Heil said.
Carpinteria is in the same boat as Santa Barbara’s public schools.
“No word from our district about when we might try to open phase one conditioning,” athletic director Pat Cooney said. “Most Citrus Coast League athletic directors reported the same at today’s meeting.
“We did hear that schools in Conejo may be starting very soon. We are also hearing that Santa Barbara schools are proposing a Sept. 14 or Sept. 21 reopening. Carpinteria would likely follow the lead of other schools in Santa Barbara County.”
Rob Wigod, commissioner of athletics for the CIF Southern Section, described the resumption of workouts as “a positive step in the right direction.”
“You have no doubt heard that there are some states around our nation who have begun their fall seasons of sport, including allowing spectators in the stands,” he said. “I have been asked if that makes us in the Southern Section and California feel we are being left behind.
“Quite the contrary, as I believe the lessons learned from the experiences in other states can be applied to the time period we have available to us prior to the beginning of our 2020-2021 sports calendars and will provide valuable information to us for what lies ahead.”
Bishop Diego High, an independent Catholic secondary school, got seven days of conditioning in early July before the coronavirus pandemic shut down all youth sports in Santa Barbara County.
While online instruction began Aug. 18 at Santa Barbara’s public high schools and on Aug. 24 at Carpinteria, Bishop’s classes don’t start until next Tuesday.
Its football team, which won the only state championship in county history when it captured the 3AA title in 2017, has been working out 38 varsity players and between 20-to-27 junior varsity athletes, athletic director Aaron Skinner reported.
Bishop’s baseball and cheer teams, as well as both its boys and girls volleyball squads, have also been working out, he said.
“Our football team has been doing athletic movements while incorporating some weightlifting stuff that we’re able to do outdoors,” Skinner pointed out. “It’s been great — we’ve been getting back to a solid foundation with the new guidelines that allow the use of balls within a small pod of athletes.
“We’re allowed to do more skill development, and that’s raised the energy level and enabled us to do some constructive competition. One pod, for example, will go 18-for-22 in pass completions while another might go 19-for-22.”
Quarterbacks Buddy Melgoza and Michael Luckhurst, both of whom were sidelined with injuries during parts of last season, are taking advantage of the extra preparation time before the Jan. 8 season opener.
“There are a couple of other guys in a similar boat,” Skinner said. “It’s great to see all of them back — it’s great to see the kids in general.
“One of the benefits of the season being pushed back is that they all have the chance to fully recover and be 100%, which I’m sure would not have been the case if the games began in the fall.”
Boys volleyball will be the first sport to resume competition on Dec. 12. The opening night for girls volleyball is on Dec. 19 while boys volleyball will begin play on Dec. 19. The first cross country meets are set for Dec. 26 while girls water polo will get started on Dec. 28.