High school sports can now resume, even if their home counties remain in the purple, or widespread, tier of reopening, under new guidelines released by the California Department of Public Health.
- Every single day after practice, coach Rollo would tell us, let's pray on having a season. And our blessings-- our prayers came to-- to happen.
LAURIE PEREZ: For athletes--
KYRON WARE-HOUSTON: Just can't wait to hit the field and just play baseball again.
LAURIE PEREZ: For coaches--
BRUCE ROLLINSON: And I feel like, you know, 32 years ago and I'm going into my first game.
LAURIE PEREZ: --and for administrators, Friday's announcement from Governor Newsom and public health leaders that high school sports can resume is enough after almost a year without competing for every team to feel as if they'll have a winning season no matter their final record.
AMANDA WATERS: I think for us, and honestly for every athlete in California, it's, like, finally, you know? Like, all that hard work we can show what we can do.
LAURIE PEREZ: The move is not without conditions. First, all outdoor sports can resume only in counties where COVID-19 case rates are at or below 14 people per 100,000. Moderate contact sports, including baseball and softball can go on without weekly testing. But high-contact sports like football, basketball, can resume only if all coaches and players 13 and older get tested once a week.
And test results must be available within 24 hours of a game, meet, or match. It will be an abbreviated football season, but the coach for powerhouse Mater Dei says any season is better than nothing. And it's time to show how the pandemic has tested but not broken his kids.
BRUCE ROLLINSON: We have been jumping over bags and running up and down the field since last August, you know? You got to be an awful tough kid to put up with that. They deserve to see this great football team because I've got a race car, and we're going to go race here real soon.
LAURIE PEREZ: [LAUGHS] The COVID shutdown shut down opportunities for elite athletes at Long Beach Polytech. The baseball coach says some players who would have gotten scholarships last year are still waiting, not to mention the impact he's worried it's had on development of the field.
BRENT LAVOIE: The mental health aspect to this as we are seeing is a big, big deal.
LAURIE PEREZ: Which is why the return to competition is equally big for coaches and for athletes.
- I'll be excited.
- Oh, there's no doubt that we'll have extra motivation.
BRENT LAVOIE: I'll be emotional, for sure. I'm going to be choking back tears. I mean, I choking back tears a couple weeks ago when we were allowed just to gather with the guys. To me, it's-- yeah, it's baseball, it's sports, but it's-- sharing life.
LAURIE PEREZ: They've learned, along with all of us, how quickly things can change in sports and in life.
TAIT VIGELAND: I tell the girls before each race, you know, nothing is guaranteed. COVID could get worse. Our season might be canceled midway. So just race it like it's your last.
LAURIE PEREZ: Within the next few days, coaches here in Orange County could hear that they have reached the COVID case rate they need. Their [AUDIO OUT] which is not expected to resume sports as soon. In Orange County, I'm Laurie Perez, "KCAL 9 News."
- Well, the search is on--