Article By: Evan Mirante
Sports are finally coming back to Santa Rosa High School. According to the California Interscholastic Federation, there are four total tiers of sports when it comes to COVID-19 safety. These four tiers are widespread (purple), substantial (red), moderate (orange) and minimal (yellow). Currently, Sonoma County is still in the purple tier, but according to the Santa Rosa Panthers Athletic update some sports will be allowed to start back up this month.
Tennis coach Dustin St. John said he is excited to get back on the courts with his team, since the season was cut short last year. “Previously, we had won the league and were on track to take first place again,” St. John said.
Tennis is just one of the sports that are allowed in the purple tier list, along with cross country, golf, swimming & diving and track & field. Baseball and softball will not be approved until the red tier. Badminton, football, soccer and volleyball can be approved when in the orange tier. Finally, basketball and wrestling can be approved in the yellow tier, since they are predominately contact sports.
According to the email that was sent by the Santa Rosa High School athletic department, the purple tier sports (Tier 1) which include girls golf, cross country and boys tennis, will begin practices this month. Tier 2 sports which include boys golf, swimming and diving, girls tennis and track and field will start on March 15, according to the Santa Rosa City Schools district office. In their email, SRHS activity directors, Kenneth Knowlton and Bryan Price, said the decision was made to “split up the Purple Tier to mitigate COVID exposure, prevent and reduce student-athlete injury, and increase student-athlete opportunities to participate.”
“I think the sport tiers are a good idea in order to keep everyone safe,” said senior Lindsey Graham, who has been playing golf for two years. Graham said she is excited to start playing golf despite COVID-19 restrictions.
If your sport isn’t in the purple tier, you’re out of luck for now until COVID-19 starts to die down. Junior Blake Grudzien said, “It makes sense that some sports are allowed and some aren’t, basketball is much more dangerous than golf and I don’t think that they should be treated the same just because they are both sports. It’s unfortunate that some people can’t play their sport but when a sport is safe I see no reason to suspend its season.”
While Grudzien is sympathetic to people who can’t play their sport, he’s excited to get back to playing tennis. “I’ve been playing at a club for months with COVID precautions,” Grudzien said. He’s been playing tennis since he was 5 or 6 and can’t wait to start the new season as the team’s unofficial team captain.
Grudizien isn’t the only one excited about sports restarting. Senior golfer Max Taylor said he is excited to begin events and practices. “I miss the competition that I was able to participate in,” Taylor said. Taylor has been playing golf for 10 years and is completely fine with golf starting up during the pandemic. “As long as I wear a mask and I’m 6 feet from other people I’m fine with starting the sports, I have no problem as long as I keep my distance,” he said.
Sports aren’t only starting up for existing members of the team, if you want to join one of these sports you can. “We encourage anyone to join us and check out this awesome sport,” said cross country coach Carrie Joseph. However, the deadline to sign up is February 22.
Coach Joseph said she is thrilled to finally start their season. “I have had 50-60 athletes training on their own since last June, and I can’t wait to see them all and help them grow as athletes and people,” she said. “We have all been tested by the pandemic, and our team has never given up hope despite all the delays and setbacks.”
It’s definitely nice to see sports back in action and even if your sport isn’t back, it’s a big step in the right direction, and this could be an opportunity to try out a new sport. If you are participating in a sport go out there and make Santa Rosa High School proud. For more information about participating in any of the current sports offered go to SRHS Athletics page or contact one the coaches for the sport you are interested in.