The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school athletics in the state, announced Monday morning the start of the prep sports season will be delayed until December or January due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront,” the CIF stated in a press release on its website. “As these guidelines change, CIF Sections may allow for athletic activity to potentially resume under the summer period rules of the local Section. Also, given this calendar change, the CIF has temporarily suspended Bylaws 600-605 (Outside Competition) in all sports for the 2020-21 school year.”
Central Valley’s Greg Magni, Ceres High’s John Bussard and other athletic directors from the Sac-Joaquin Section’s 196 member schools were among the 250 officials to participate in a Zoom meeting, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on Monday.
“The purpose of the meeting was to give us our specific calendars, playoff dates and updated bi-laws,” Magni said.
“Nothing about this school year will be what we’re used to,” he added. “Everything has changed. We have guidelines now. It’s going to be a unique challenge. We’ll make it work. Nobody knows what the future holds with this disease. It’s an ever-changing thing. We hope 2021 brings us better times.”
The CIF condensed three seasons of athletics—fall, spring and winter—into two seasons, which will be played between December and June.
The first tier of sports includes cross country, water polo, volleyball and football.
The football season will kick off on Jan. 8.
Volleyball (Dec. 29), cross country (Dec. 28) and water polo (Dec. 28) have different start dates.
The second tier includes soccer, tennis, wrestling, basketball, swimming, baseball, softball, golf and track and field.
Soccer will get underway on March 1.
Tennis (March 8), Wrestling (March 8), basketball (March 9), swimming (March 22), baseball (March 22), softball (March 22), golf (March 29) and track and field (March 29) have later start dates.
“With the increase in (COVID-19) cases, this is the best-case scenario,” said Derrick Goblirsch, first-year head coach of Central Valley’s football program. “It gives everybody a little hope. The kids have something to look forward to. I’ll probably have a Zoom meeting with the guys this week and let them know what our plan is moving forward.”
“I didn’t want the season to get pushed back,” Ceres High senior football player Amare Padilla said. “But I don’t mind. It’s a step in the right direction. We got a lot of new coaches. We’ll have more time to get to know them. We’ll get to build our team chemistry more.”
“I understand why it’s being moved,” Central Valley senior football player Isaiah Hidalgo said. “I don’t really mind it (the delay) as long as we have a season. The extra time we get, we can use it to our advantage. By the time the season starts, we won’t be huffing and puffing. We’ll be in shape.”
Some athletes and coaches will have conflicting schedules as their seasons will overlap due to changes to the sports calendar.
“I’ll be flexible with the guys,” said Goblirsch, who also coaches baseball at Central Valley. “I’m not going to force them to make a decision between one thing or another.”
“They haven’t shortened any of the seasons,” Magni added. “The issue will be overlap. Athletes might be forced to choose what sport to play.”
Sports schedules will be hectic during the months of March and April.
“There’s going to be a lot happening at the same time,” Magni said. “I’m going to have to get creative with how our teams use and share space. I’ll figure out a plan.”
The CIF has yet to determine if spectators will be allowed to attend matches and meets. It will follow directives given by local and state health officials.
“We have no clue what that’s going to look like,” Magni said. “That’s not a decision we get to make.”