By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Athletes, teams feel impact of coronavirus
• High school sports season postponed due to COVID-19
empty stands
Athletic gymnasiums, like Ceres High’s, and other playing venues will remain empty for the remainder of the month due to the coronavirus pandemic. - photo by Dale Butler

Ceres High’s varsity softball program planned on defending its Western Athletic Conference title and making a deep run in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs this year.

Senior shortstop Vianney Perez and her Bulldog teammates received heartbreaking news on March 13.

The spring sports season was postponed, effective Monday, due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The decision was made after local school district superintendents met with Stanislaus County Public Health Officer Julie Vaishampayan and Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall last Friday.

“I understand the safety first part,” said Perez, a standout hitter and shortstop. “But to have this opportunity taken away from us is devastating. It’s heartbreaking. This team could have gone very far.”
Vianney Perez

“I understand the safety first part,” said Perez, a standout hitter and shortstop. “But to have this opportunity taken away from us is devastating. It’s heartbreaking. This team could have gone very far.” 

“There are a variety of reasons we decided to suspend all athletics,” Ceres Unified School District Supt. Scott Siegel said.  There’s a (state) prohibition against gatherings of 250 people or more. “Ultimately, it was a safety decision.”

Athletics at all levels, including high school, college and professional, have been shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

There were three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Stanislaus County as of March 16.

“It breaks your heart to see kids not get the opportunity to play sports but I understand the reasoning,” Central Valley High School Athletic Director Greg Magni said. “The safety of our students and everybody in our community is the No. 1 priority.”

“If they want to take those measures to keep players safe, that’s probably the right action,” Central Valley sophomore boys golf standout Matteo Bonales said. “It’s just sad because we don’t get to play.”

“It’s heartbreaking as a senior not knowing if I’m going to even have a season,” Central Valley softball standout Scarlett Lloyd said.

“My kids are devastated with what’s going on,” Central Valley swim head coach Julie Brooks said. “They’re young. They have a hard time with change. I want to still be there for them but I don’t want to be insensitive to what’s going on with the spread of this virus. Parents are concerned. Me as a parent, I’m concerned.”

“Kids at school are scared,” Ceres High senior boys volleyball player Victor Hurtado said. “People don’t shake hands anymore. They fist bump and use their elbows.”

“It hurts when you’ve been playing the game for so long and don’t know if you’ll be able to step on the field again,” Ceres High senior baseball standout Justin Prestridge said. “Hopefully, we’ll play more games this season.”

 A starter on the Modesto Junior College men’s golf team, 2019 Ceres High grad Gary Condit found out his freshman season with the Pirates was suspended on Friday.

“It’s disappointing but I understand why,” Condit said. “This is a really bad crisis we got going on. It’s bigger than sports. For me personally, it’s a scary thing because I have lung issues. I’m more susceptible to getting the virus. I got to be very cautious.”

Condit had to be hospitalized his junior and senior years in high school after suffering collapsed lungs.

He was diagnosed with spontaneous pneumothorax.

Ceres High grads Callie Nunes (Concordia University), Rayohna Sagapolu (San Jose State), Mahlena O’Neal (University of Georgia) and Nicole “Sis” Bates (University of Washington) didn’t get to finish their NCAA softball seasons.

“When coach (Crystal Rosenthal) told us the news, we didn’t want to believe it,” said Nunes, a junior pitcher, “Everyone started crying. It’s really heartbreaking for the seniors. They helped lay the foundation going into NCAA Division II. They didn’t get the ending they deserved.”

Ja’Quan Gardner, a 2014 Central Valley High School grad, returned home from the Pacific Northwest this past weekend. 

Gardner and the Seattle Dragons of the XFL were supposed to play football against the Los Angeles Wildcats on Sunday.

“We were preparing to play in an empty stadium,” said Gardner, Seattle’s starting running back. “They had already made that announcement earlier in the week. We found out Friday the season was canceled. You don’t want it to end but everybody understands it’s bigger than football. They definitely made the right decision taking extra caution.”

The NBA, NHL and MLS have all suspended their seasons.

Ceres native Cade Cowell, 16, became the youngest player in San Jose Earthquakes history to make an appearance in a Major League Soccer game on March 8.

MLB called off Spring Training and delayed the start of its season to mid-May.