the return of basketball, wrestling and volleyball | #students | #parents

De La Salle-Concord football coach Justin Alumbaugh described Friday as a “joyous day.”

“It’s one of the first days in a long, long time that millions of kids can smile and look forward to something,” he said

High school athletes in California have been largely on a 10-month timeout for doing nothing wrong, subjected to health regulations caused by a once-a-century pandemic.

But on Friday, state and health officials deemed it safe enough for youth and prep athletes to begin practicing and competing this Friday, with a long list of conditions and protocols that include testing, masks, social distancing and — most important — a county case rate at or below 14 per 100,000 people.

All but two Bay Area counties — Contra Costa and Solano — met that threshold, with new numbers expected Tuesday.

“(Friday) was a huge step in the right direction in providing a clear pathway for our school communities to get student athletes out there,” California Interscholastic Federation Executive Director Ron Nocetti said. “We still need to continue to advocate for a large number more to get them playing as well.”

Serra football coach Patrick Walsh is one of the state’s biggest advocates. He, along with Alumbaugh and Torrey Pines-San Diego’s Ron Gladnick, started the Golden State High School Football Coaches Community that met almost daily for three weeks with Gov. Gavin Newsom or his staff.

“We’re still ecstatic,” Walsh said. “Friday’s announcement cleared the way for millions of kids to get off the bench. But it’s not all of them. We’re aware of that. It’s a brilliant first step, but there’s more work to be done.”

Friday’s guidance from the California Department of Public Health didn’t address indoor sports, which includes basketball, wrestling and volleyball. Counties have to reach the yellow — “minimal spread” — tier in order for those sports to be played, a true longshot.

Area basketball coaches, headed by Randy Bessolo (University) and Chris Lavdiotis (Miramonte-Orinda), planned a Zoom call Monday night with more than 40 participants expected.

Bessolo said starting a coaches group is the first step in a “three-horse” game plan to “get indoor basketball back on the court as soon as possible. There are 43 other states that have already begun playing safely and for California to be in last place is unacceptable.”

Utilizing the 60,000 Facebook member “Let Them Play CA” organization that was intricate in spearheading Friday’s decision is also part of the basketball group’s plan, Bessolo said. He’s already had multiple conversations with “Let Them Play CA” organizer Brad Hensley and Walsh.

“We are definitely going to follow their model,” the University coach said. “They were able to dig up a lot of important data and how we can get this done safely. That’s key. We won’t just be fighting for basketball, but all indoor sports.”

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