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.
- Laurie Perez explains.
KYRON WARE-HUDSON: Every single day after practice, Coach Rollinson tell us, let's pray on having a season and our blessings, our prayers came to happen.
LAURIE PEREZ: For athletes--
RAYMOND JENKINS: Just can't wait to hit the field and just play baseball again.
LAURIE PEREZ: --for coaches--
BRUCE ROLLINSON: I feel like, you know, 32 years ago and I'm going to 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, and water polo, 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 racing here real soon.
LAURIE PEREZ: 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 off the field.
BRENT LAVOLE: 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.
RAYMOND JENKINS: I'll be excited.
KYRON WARE-HUDSON: Oh, there's no doubt that we'll have extra motivation.
BRENT LAVOLE: I'll be emotional, for sure. I'm going to be choking back tears. I was 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-- it's sharing life.
LAURIE PEREZ: They've learned, along with all of us how quickly things can change in sports and in life.
TALT 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: Coaches here in Orange County could hear in a few days that they have reached the case rate they need in order to start sports. They're a bit ahead of LA County, which is not expected to resume sports as quickly.
Outside Mater Dei High School, I'm Laurie Perez.