COVID-19 Postpones School Sports at SRHS

Delay of Game. With no games scheduled until at least January, the football field at Santa Rosa High School remains empty, but football coach Roy Keegan is hopeful that players and fans will be able to return to the field in January.  COVID has hampered SRHS sports since March when schools closed due to the pandemic.  “Other state high school games are allowing fans to attend using social distancing.”, Keegan said. “If we have to, we will mark off the stands so our friends and families can attend our games.”

Article & Photo By: Evan Mirante

The wrath of COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill; sports have been no exception. Even as the professional leagues begin, fall sports at Santa Rosa High School have been pushed back. Many athletes, especially seniors who are hoping to finish their final year playing the sport they love, are frustrated at the decision to delay the season. 

Justin McManus, a senior, is disappointed that the football season has been postponed, especially since this is the last year he will be playing in high school. McManus, who has been playing football for five years, is a linebacker and running back for the team. He says as long as he has a season, eventually, he will be happy.

COVID-19 has changed the way that athletes and coaches will approach the new season.

“COVID has changed everything, from how we prepare for a season to monitoring grades and holding our players accountable,” said football coach Roy Keegan. “We have time to prepare for a January start to our season, but that also compresses the sports calendar for our multi-sport athletes.”

Instead of daily practices on the field, the football players have to adapt to zoom workouts and meets. “We have been doing zoom calls as a team to work out and get in the best shape we can since we can’t go to the school or the field,” said McManus. 

Rodrigo Guzman, a seventeen-year-old senior who plays baseball and football, says in addition to zoom calls, he has been working out and conditioning to keep in shape for the upcoming season.

Coach Keegan said the turn out for zoom workouts has been good and while he hopes the team can start practicing in person soon, he encourages his players to get in shape as best they can. 

“Our players know that when we are able to hit the field, they need to be in shape,” Keegan said. “As coaches, our biggest concern is our players sitting on a computer for six hours and then getting up to sit on the couch playing video games.”

Cross country coach, Carrie Joseph, has also had to adjust to keep her runners in shape. Over the summer they were able to practice but had to adhere to strict guidelines. “It involved a lot of paperwork and attention to details on the part of coaches,” she said. “It was not ideal, since the whole team couldn’t be together at the same time, but it was better than not being able to meet at all (like now).” 

Joseph set up a Google Classroom, and posted suggested weekly training schedules while the runners posted their weekly training logs. She also hopes to restart in person practices in October since cross country is a no contact sport. But even though cross country is a no-contact sport, it doesn’t mean that track meets with 20+ teams will be happening anytime soon. 

If things improve and the players are allowed to practice, they will still have to adhere to protocols, including temperature checks, hand sanitizing, social distancing and no use of equipment.

Some seniors may be concerned about COVID-19 preventing them from getting a sports scholarship because of the season delays, but coach Keegan doesn’t seem to think this will be an issue.

“If a player has the grades, work ethic and can show they can play on film, the opportunities will be there,” Keegan said. “College sports is a business, and if a player can play, they will find them.”

Keegan said players who are still interested in trying to get scholarships can attach film from last year when they apply to college. Getting a scholarship for cross country should be the same according to Coach Joseph.

As for having fans at the games, coach Keegan hopes to invite friends and family to come using social distancing protocols, but if this isn’t possible, the home games might be streamed on the NFHS network. 

Guzman had something to say about not having fans at the games. “I would be absolutely disappointed if we couldn’t have fans because they give us motivation during the game with their yelling and chants,” he said. 

Even though COVID-19 has delayed the beginning of the sports season, the coaches and athletes are hopeful that the games and meets will begin eventually. Coach Keegan said it would be heartbreaking especially for the seniors if their season is taken away from them.

“They have been through so much with fires, power outages, excessive heat, etc.” Keegan said. “COVID is just the next thing they are dealing with, as all the students are.” 

While COVID-19 may have postponed school sports for now, it’s not going to keep the Panther spirit down for long.

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