High school athletics coming to a field near you

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High school sports was given the go-ahead to expand on Friday, and Winters High School quickly jumped at the opportunity. On Friday, Feb. 19 the California Public Health Department released the newest set of guidelines for youth sports. The CDPH announced that high-contact sports (football, water polo and rugby) with participants ages 13 and older, can resume in counties with an adjusted daily COVID-19 case rate of 14 people or fewer per a 100,000 population. Yolo County was at 6.6 as of last weekend. For WHS the update meant that mens and womens soccer and football would be able to begin practice immediately. Athletic Director Daniel Ward said the WHS cheer squad would also be able to begin practicing as well. Under the new guidance high contact sports like football would require weekly testing of players and coaches once games begin for any county 7 per 100,000; with the test results made available within 24 hours of competition. Although the state would be footing the bill and provide testing materials, Ward said the details are still in the works.  However, Yolo County’s current numbers do not activate the weekly testing requirement. The CDPH and CaliforniaInterscholastic Federation (CIF) gave outdoor, non-contact sports the green light at the end of January. The WHS cross country club competed in their first meet against Colusa last Tuesday, and their second meet against Arbuckle on Monday. According to Ward, the cross county club would be the only WHS sport that would be able to compete during the first Sacramento Valley League sports season which ends on March 17. Under the new guidelines, WHS athletes would be allowed to participate in more than one sports cohort. Which means athletes could potentially compete on two of the four active sports teams during the current season. “I want kids to be able to do as much as they can,” Ward said. “We have a lot of details that we have to work out. Coaches will need to work together to see if this is possible.” There was no change in the guidelines regarding which teams high schools can play against. According to Ward, WHS can only play teams within Yolo County or neighboring counties, and their adjusted case rate also must be below 14 people per 100,000.  “We’re lucky that we neighbor so many counties. We have a lot of options,” Ward said. He said one challenge is waiting for some counties to drop below the magic number of 14. Another challenge is putting together a schedule because some of the high schools WHS traditionally plays within league, are not in neighboring counties. One new change does allow a sport that has officially begun practice to not be shut down, even if the number within the county rises above 14 cases per 100,000. “As soon as we have our first official practice we are allowed to finish our season no matter what happens,” Ward said. If there is a positive COVID test within a sports team, WHS will follow all state and county guidelines for the situation. Ward said both students and coaches are excited to get back to it. “I’m glad that athletics are providing that outlet for kids right now, and they need it now more than ever. Coaches are excited to get back to work right now too,” Ward said. The current SVL sports season timeframes are:

  • Football/Cheer: March 19 through April 23.
  • Soccer: March 22 through April 22.

Baseball, softball and track are planned for the spring sport season and will run:

  • Baseball/Softball: April 22 through June 3.
  • Track and Field: April 21 through May 21.

Ward said unfortunately, there were no changes for indoor sports such as volleyball, basketball and wrestling. All three sports would be allowed to open up once Yolo County enters the yellow tier. Ward said there is currently no league schedule for any of them. WHS’s swim team is part of the Butte View League and they are still working on a possibility of competing in the spring season.

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