On February 10, the FUSD Board of Education unanimously approved two official sports seasons for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year for outdoor sports. Although specific schedules and logistics are to be determined, NCS and MVAL are mandating various COVID-19 precautions so athletes can return safely to competing.
The first sports season, beginning on March 1, will include Cross Country, Boys and Girls Swimming, Boys Tennis, and Girls Golf. The second sports season will begin on April 19, and FUSD plans to offer Track & Field, Girls Tennis, and Boys Golf. Recent updates have also shown that in the second season, Boys and Girls Soccer, Boys and Girls Water Polo, Baseball, and Softball will also be allowed. The California Public Health Department (CDPH) has designated each county in CA into tiers based on their COVID-19 risk level, with each tier allowing different sports to be played.
Although sports will begin to open up, the two seasons are shorter than in previous years. Rather than a three-month season, the March 1 season will only last seven weeks. Furthermore, there will be no league championships, section playoffs, or NCS postseason.
To join a sports team, athletes must receive a physical and sign up for athletics on the new platform FamilyID in order to get approved and cleared for sports. The coach of each sport will contact athletes about practice days and times if they are registered, cleared, and approved on the Family ID site before the season starts. General measures for teams to follow include regularly testing for COVID-19, identifying contact information for local health departments, incorporating CDPH guidance for face coverings, and notifying coaches about individuals who have been in close contact with the virus. Athletes will also have to follow healthy hygiene practices, including washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, socially distancing from teammates and coaches, and wearing masks at all times. Practices will occur after the school day has ended, and for most sports, will be typically between the hours of 3-6 p.m. No spectators will be allowed during competition.
Boys and Girls Swim
Since February 16, Boys and Girls Swim have been holding 45-minute athletic conditioning sessions at the MSJ pool for cohorts of 15 people. Per CDPH guidelines, only one person is allowed in each lane. “Since some [students] are swimming at clubs, I wanted to open the pools up to student-athletes who didn’t have such access to them at home … But, we still have to cut our [team] down to fit the number needed, which is normally something we don’t do,” Boys and Girls Swim Coach Melissa Kaeo said. She plans to hold tryouts during the first week of March. Many returning team members have not swum in one year, so Kaeo is planning to ease into the season with warmups and easy swim sets to assess everyone’s conditions. Competition this season will look different as all swim meets will happen virtually. Every Thursday and Friday starting from the third week of March, swimmers from various schools will swim at their own pools and enter their times into a Google Form.
Boys and Girls Tennis Coach Michael Jan has been holding conditioning sessions for cohorts of 14 people since February 2, although they have been strictly physical training, without access to tennis rackets and balls. Now, in light of the March 1 season, Jan will be returning to practices on the tennis court and holding tryouts for Boys Tennis from March 1 to 3. He is also potentially looking to cut the Junior Varsity teams because of the 14-person cohort limit. “I still need to take the best players to play. So, we are going to take the top 14 boys … to compete,” Jan said. Their first opponent will be Irvington High School on March 9. Though this season has experienced drastic changes, the players are excited to have a good time with one another. “I just enjoy seeing my teammates, captains, and Coach Jan after so long. Because our season got cut short only after a few weeks last year, I’m taking none of this year’s tennis season for granted,” Junior Larry Shi said.
As Girls Golf Coach Tai Chung is waiting for approval to access the Fremont Park Golf Course for practices, he plans on creating workout videos and holding Zoom workouts for the student-athletes to follow. Chung is trying to get in contact with Dougherty Valley High School in order to schedule a practice match against their team. “We can’t go past county lines … but if we can get a match against them, I think it’ll save the season because it will emulate a playoff type scenario,” Chung said. Chung is also looking at holding tryouts since the regular 24-player team is no longer allowed. Despite these changes, the team remains hopeful for their upcoming season. “I’d just enjoy being able to play and have fun with my friends … [Our team’s] dynamics and chemistry will be the same, just with masks and social distancing,” Junior Haylie Wakayama said.
Cross Country began athletic conditioning for a brief period of time in Oct. and Nov. 2020, and now looks forward to the return of the official season. Other than being restricted to school premises, another challenge that the team faced during their conditioning sessions last year was that they were unable to fit a warmup, workout, and cooldown in the 45-minute time slot. “My biggest fear is that people [will] get injured,” Cross Country Coach Edward Njoo said. Unlike the other sports, Njoo does not plan to hold tryouts and instead will allow people on the team based on a first come, first serve basis. Additionally, there will still be five divisions — Frosh/Soph Boys, Junior Varsity Boys, Junior Varsity Girls, Varsity Boys, and Varsity Girls. Cross country meets will be held on Thursdays and Fridays every week once the season starts, one day for girls and the other for boys. “In a typical year, I have like 30, sometimes 40, boys at the starting line. I’m not going to have that many this year. But we will try to recapitulate as best as possible a typical meet — there will still be scores. The race courses might be modified… there won’t be spectators, but the heart of the meet will still be there.” Njoo said.
Cover image by Sports Editor Anika Arora