By Derek Wilson
Nearly a full year after high school sports were placed on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes are finally warming up for a new season.
While the football season still hangs in the balance, some non-contact sports could begin as soon as the first week of March.
“Our kids are ready and eager to go,” said Chad Stuart, Director of Athletics at San Domenico. “The kids didn’t care if they competed. They just wanted to be out and practicing until they can compete.”
“We have heard some (COVID concern from students), but a majority just want to get back to playing,” said Chad Stuart, Assistant Principal at H.S. 1327, formerly known as Drake. “Those who are concerned, certainly have the choice to not participate.”
Swimming, cross country, tennis and golf will be the first sports back in action. The competition will look a lot different, however. It is possible that sports like cross country and swimming will not be head-to-head competition. Rather, teams could compete separately and compare times, as some leagues around the North Bay are doing.
The seven-week seasons for this purple tier sports would continue through mid-April or early June.
Baseball, softball and girls lacrosse could start as soon as March 15, if Marin County shifts to the red tier. Football and other contact sports would have to start by March or mid-April to get in a minimum seven-week season, but the county would have to be in the orange tier before they can start.
With so many sports seasons overlapping, some dual-sport athletes are being forced to make a difficult choice.
“We have not heard of students sitting out because of COVID concerns, but there will likely be some,” Stuart said. “The big impact we are seeing is that, since certain sports are playing out of their traditional seasons, it is having an impact on registration numbers for other sports. A couple of our emerging or up-and-coming teams are being impacted by having to compete against more established sports. On the flip side, sports that are starting in the less crowded first season have numbers that are way up.”
Parents and fans should not expect to crowd the sidelines or the stands this season, as for now, the number of people at any competitive event will be tightly controlled. Parents might be asked to drop off their students before the game, then return to pick them up afterward.
The end of the season might seem a little lackluster without the usual postseason competition and league championship games. Some teams and athletes won’t have the opportunity to defend their league postseason titles as neither the Marin County Athletic League nor the Bay Counties League plan to hold league playoffs. The North Coast Section will not likely have playoffs, and state-level postseason competition remains up in the air.
“We also are focusing on participation and playoffs only includes four teams and we wanted as many athletes to be able to play as much as they could,” said MCAL commissioner Susie Woodall.