Workouts halted

West High football players stretch as they prepare for the first day of conditioning drills June 22 at Steve Lopez Stadium.

Three weeks after high school teams tried to get a jump on the fall season, all workouts and conditioning sessions have been shut down again.

Now the prospect that high school athletics will be shut down through the end of August, and possibly until the end of the year, hangs over local teams.

On Monday, the San Joaquin County Office of Education and county Public Health Services put out a statement encouraging all schools to begin the school year with distance learning only. With classrooms and campuses closed, athletic directors for local schools also shut down activities.

Tracy High athletic director Matt Shrout said that he and the other athletic directors in Tracy Unified School District, Steve Anastasio at West High and Joe Graham at Kimball High, had been in contact to talk about how the fall season will shape up.

Shrout said that even before the county came up with its recommendation, it was evident that the increased COVID-19 numbers, representing a surge in infections and hospitalizations, would affect athletics.

“Not so much the county, but me and the other two athletic directors started talking. We had athletes that were missing because they had been in contact with somebody (with the coronavirus), or a parent was getting tested. It just was getting real close to affecting us,” Shrout said. “It wasn’t really in Tracy too much, and then all of a sudden it was everywhere.”

Shrout said he then talked to Mary Petty, Tracy Unified School District’s director of student services, to let her know that, just like other district activities, sports teams would not gather in person. Schools will hear on Monday what the California Interscholastic Federation wants to do with the fall sports season, but Shrout said it seemed prudent that local schools take control of the situation.

“We all want to be on the same page so we don’t have any issues,” he said. “So we just decided that with the pending CIF thing coming out on Monday, which could put us out for a long time, the risk of getting these kids sick, it wasn’t worth it to condition for another three days, so we shut it down for the rest of the week. I told the district that we’re done and they backed us 100%.”

Mountain House High suspended all workout activities after the Lammersville Unified School District Governing Board voted on Monday to go to distance learning through at least the end of August.

Athletic directors from Millennium and Delta Charter high schools also said this week that they had suspended all athletic activities until further notice.

The CIF’s Sac-Joaquin Section has listed July 27 as the first day of practice for football and Aug. 3 as the start of practice for other fall sports, including cross-country, water polo, and girls volleyball, golf and tennis. Games were scheduled to begin Aug. 21.

The CIF plans to meet with representatives of the 10 sections on Monday to decide if that schedule will remain in place, or if a new schedule should be adopted in response to statewide COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s been kind of discouraging. The CIF is like our parent, and we’ve heard nothing from them since June 12, other than ‘We’ll talk to you on July 20,’” Shrout said. “That’s a long time to not hear anything. Now there’s rumors out there that we’ll start in January, there’s rumors that they’re going to cancel it.”

Aside from what school districts have decided, athletic directors can also refer to college conferences as an indication of what might happen to the high school season.

On July 9, the California Community Colleges Athletic Association announced that it would shift the 2020-21 season so that fall sports, including football and women’s volleyball, would start in January along with basketball and wrestling.

The California Collegiate Athletic Association, which covers NCAA Division 2 athletics, including California State University’s East Bay and Stanislaus campuses, announced back in May that the fall season would be canceled.

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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