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Uncertainty of COVID causes overlap of sports seasons
Verlis Smith 2020
Ceres High’s Verlis Smith and other athletes from Stanislaus County might have to play just one sport this academic year due to overlapping schedules.

High school athletes that play multiple sports in Stanislaus County might have to choose one over the other because of overlapping schedules.

The California Interscholastic Federation’s Sac-Joaquin Section modified its competition calendar on Dec. 18 due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus guidance and regulations from state, local and school officials may prevent athletics from being played this academic school year.

“If I had to choose today, I’d have to stick with basketball,” said Verlis Smith, who’s also a standout in football and volleyball at Ceres High School. “The basketball court is the best way to take my mind off of everything else.”

Smith was in the eighth grade when his father Lewis passed away at the age of 61.

“My dad played basketball while growing up and in college,” he said. “I always wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

“We were already planning on sharing athletes and having overlap,” said Derrick Goblirsch, who coaches football and baseball at Central Valley High School. “We don’t want to take the opportunity away from a kid if he’s willing to put in the time and work to play multiple sports at the same time.”

Season 1 Sports are projected to be staged January through April.

Football has a projected start date of Jan. 29.

Cross country, water polo and girls volleyball have projected start dates of Jan. 25.

Season 2 Sports are slated to begin in March and run through June.

Track and field has a projected start date of March 29.

Baseball, softball and swimming have projected start dates of March 22.

Basketball (March 9), wrestling (March 8), soccer (March 1), tennis (Feb. 15), golf (Feb. 15) and boys volleyball (to be determined) have different start dates.

The California Department of Public Health released its guidance and a possible start date for competition of youth and high school sports on Dec. 14 following months of anticipation.

Based on the state’s color-tiered reopening plan, CDPH’s updated guidelines revealed that outdoor low-contact sports such as cross country, golf, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field may be permitted in counties that remain in the most restrictive purple tier. 

Inter-team competitions may begin Jan. 25, 2021, though the date will be reassessed on Jan. 4. This guidance also applies to adult recreational sports, community-sponsored programs and private clubs and leagues. 

Counties promoted to the less-restrictive red tier may begin outdoor moderate-contact sports. Included are baseball, softball and cheerleading. 

Outdoor high-contact sports such as football, soccer and water polo along with indoor low-contact sports like volleyball fall under the orange tier. Indoor moderate- and high-contact sports — basketball, wrestling, martial arts — are in the yellow tier.  

Under CDPH’s current guidelines, high-contact sports like football and basketball appear to be long shots to take place this academic school year.

The SJS is leaving the possibility open for “bowl games” to be held for girls volleyball and water polo on March 20 and football on April 16-17. There may still be a postseason for cross country, but the section plans to evaluate this in mid/late January. The Season 2 sports schedule remains unchanged.