Youth Sports: Talk about rough timing to start a column

| October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments


I was invited to write the “Youth Sports” column for the Larchmont Chronicle after inquiring this summer if the publication could use another writer. I’ve been a columnist for “Drag Racer Magazine” and am presently assistant editor of “Amateur Wrestling News.” I also coached in St. Brendan’s boys’ basketball league so, of course, a local sports column interested me.

I accepted, but the next step — finding something to write about during this pandemic — wasn’t easy. California has not permitted high school athletes to begin competing yet. What a first assignment: writing about what’s not there.

I’ve experienced similar challenges searching out content for “Amateur Wrestling News.” On March 15, all further live wrestling events were cancelled, beginning with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament in Minneapolis at the U.S. Bank Stadium. That’s where the Vikings of the National Football League play. Talk about a letdown! This was the first time that Division I wrestling was going to hold its national tournament in a football stadium.

Some college sports have returned, although schedules are shortened and starting dates have been pushed back. High school football has resumed in other states, but with tweaks. In Connecticut, the usual full-contact 11-on-11 tackle format has been replaced with smaller squads and passing-only league play. Here at home, the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) modified and split its sports into two seasons instead of the standard three, although official competition has yet to begin.

Practicing locally

“We’re practicing weekly on Tuesday afternoons,” said Tim Cullen, girls’ cross-country coach at Marlborough School. “No competitions until the season officially begins, which for us will be mid-January or so, depending on COVID.”

Presently, CIF has football on hold, but that hasn’t carried over to practice.

“We’re holding conditioning workouts for football, cross country, water polo, and volleyball,” said Chris O’Donnell, athletic director at Loyola High School. “These are limited to one hour per workout.”

Obviously, the athletes’ safety and well-being have been priority, but practice is not the same as competition, especially with a sport like football. Temperatures are taken before practice, and athletes are carefully monitored to make sure nobody is showing COVID-19 symptoms.

“Our student-athletes are chomping at the bit to get back out there, but everyone is doing well in regards to rule-following and safety measures when they do come to campus for workouts,” said Jason Cruz, communications associate at Loyola.

The last time athletics were suspended across the nation was during World War II. These are such odd doldrums through which we’re maneuvering these days. I wish the best for our local athletes and look forward to attending high school sporting events again. Whenever.

By Jim Kalin


Category: Entertainment

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