The Los Angeles Unified School District has given approval for schools to start holding indoor practices and games in campus gyms starting Monday. That clears the way for basketball, wrestling, swimming and volleyball to take place while following safety protocols.
It means Ed Azzam of Westchester, the winningest boys' basketball coach in City Section history with more than 900 victories and 15 City titles, will get the chance to coach this season. He has been head coach since 1979.
How long Azzam and other coaches will need to get their players in shape and ready to play games will be interesting. Azzam said he hasn't seen or worked with his players since March of 2020.
"We can't even get outdoors," he said of the restrictions that have been in place.
The coach said he'll see how many players will be cleared to begin practice Monday.
"If we get league and playoffs, that's great," he said of a possible schedule. "Right now there's nothing."
League schedules will have to be finalized. LAUSD teams also are restricted to playing only other City Section teams. The City Section has said it intends to hold playoffs for spring sports teams but the school year ends on June 11, not leaving a lot of time.
Also some teams already have lost players to other schools and other states because of the delay in restarting sports in the middle of a pandemic.
Bort Escoto, the basketball coach at Sylmar, said he also has had no workouts, indoors or outdoors, since March of 2020. Many of his players are playing volleyball, and there's an LAUSD rule that you can't play two sports at the same time.
"For the kids, I'm not ready," he said after hearing the news of indoor sports returning. "Between now and Monday, I better find some energy."
Fairfax, which lost to Westchester in last season's Open Division final, can't even use its gym because it's being used as a testing site. But Fairfax coach Reggie Morris Jr. said he's ready to go with the flow.
"It will be about having some fun and helping out the seniors," he said.
Fairfax returns Barry Wilds and has six freshmen who will get experience for next season.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.