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Prep sports conditioning programs restart

Justin Scacco
Special to The Union

Many students in California will begin the school year with distance learning, and while in-person instruction will be based on epidemiological metrics, one thing is clear — fields and courts will remain empty of athletic competition until at least December.

In the Sac-Joaquin section, which governs athletics for Bear River, Nevada Union and Forest Lake Christian high schools, practice for traditional fall sports isn’t slated to begin until Dec. 7 at the earliest, with the first competitions set for Dec. 21.

Traditional winter and spring sports will be played during the same season, which is set to begin practices and contests in February and March, depending on the sport.

The California Interscholastic Federation extended the summer period to December, meaning all sports teams can practice and interact with other schools like they typically would during summer months. That clears the way for scrimmages and passing leagues for football, as long as approved by local county health departments and school district administrations. In Nevada County, schools received the green light to begin conditioning this week after being told in early July to shut down activities.

“I believe our student-athletes really need this interaction to not only stay in shape but also for their mental health as well, and I applaud our district leadership and health department for granting us this opportunity.”— Scott Savoie, Bear River athletic director and co-head football coach

“With social distancing and the concern of passing the virus through touch, we are focusing specifically on the physical conditioning of our athletes, which is a great thing,” said Bear River Athletic Director and Co-Head Football Coach Scott Savoie in an email. “I believe our student-athletes really need this interaction to not only stay in shape but also for their mental health as well, and I applaud our district leadership and health department for granting us this opportunity.”

SEASON OF PLAY

Savoie said sports teams are strictly following the federation’s guidelines for returning to play, which include taking temperatures of all athletes and coaches, screening for COVID-19 symptoms, implementing social distancing measures, and wearing masks to and from practices. As the school year begins, Savoie said he expects teams at Bear River to be able to progress to using equipment and, eventually, a season of play at the end of the year.

While allowing local health departments and school districts the leeway to begin conditioning programs at different levels provides flexibility heading into the school year, it’s also created a situation where teams that are in the same league may have an edge heading into the first contests.

“We have known that our competitor schools within our leagues and section have not shut down their conditioning programs,” said Nevada Union Athletic Director Daniel Crossen in an email. “So there are schools that have been conditioning (and recently more than just conditioning). The local authority decisions have created very different experiences depending on what county you live in.”

Ultimately, Crossen said the focus is on addressing the physical and social/emotional needs of student-athletes.

“Hanging a (Foothill Valley League) championship banner is the furthest thing from our energy at this point,” added Crossen. “Here at NU, we want to get our student-athletes outside, around their Miner family, and give them an outlet that they haven’t had for months. When we are able to escalate those workouts to look more like traditional practices will be determined through collaboration with the (Nevada County Public Health) department.”

For Nevada Union students and parents, Crossen has compiled an explainer for on what they need to understand about the rules and restrictions when engaged in workouts. The presentation can be found at nevadaunion.njuhsd.com/Athletics/index.html.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.


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