Season 1 sports postponed to January at the earliest


Muthu Panchanatham

Daniel Lin (9) cleans a weight ball in a water cooler after a workout. In order to reduce spread of COVID-19, all equipment must be cleaned after workouts before being used again.

by Vishnu Kannan and Muthu Panchanatham

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced in a press release on Dec. 1 that the start of Season 1 sports will be postponed to Jan. 1, 2021 at the earliest. Season 1 sports, which include cross country, girls volleyball, football and water polo, were initially scheduled to start on Dec. 14, but new regulations implemented by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks have led to school sports being put on hold. 

On Sunday, Santa Clara County implemented a stay-at-home order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The order does not affect schools, so athletes will still be able to practice outdoors on the upper school campus. Conditioning cohorts will still be arranged by team cohorts (girls volleyball, water polo, football, basketball, swimming and tennis) and implement the same protocols that they have been using for the past few months. All conditioning sessions are held outdoors and require masks, social distancing and adequate sanitization.

To avoid further delays when sports officially resume, upper school athletics director Dan Molin advises students to fill out their Magnus medical forms and register for their respective sports as soon as possible. He stresses the importance of conditioning and patience as athletes eagerly anticipate the start of their seasons. 

“I would say just be patient and continue to stay in shape, join our conditioning, or if you have workout programs on your own, continue doing that,” Molin said. “We’re providing as much as we can on our end, so I think everyone during this time just has to be patient, as we’ve all been accustomed to doing.”

To ensure that all athletes get an equal opportunity to play their sports this year, the CIF eliminated fall, regional, and state championship events. This allows every team to compete for an equal amount of time, as opposed to in years past, when only select teams would advance to the regional and state championships.

The CIF also stated that the boys volleyball season will be moved to either late February or Season 2 to prevent the season from being cancelled for two consecutive years. Girls volleyball has also been affected by the new COVID-19 regulations. The girls volleyball team was practicing indoors with masks on for the past couple weeks, but the new regulations have forced them to shut down their practices and rely on outdoor workouts only.

The boys and girls water polo teams recently transitioned from the no-ball practices they were having during the summer (when Santa Clara County was in the purple tier) to practices with balls and other game-like scenarios. But when the county moved back up into the purple tier this past week after a temporary period of being in the red tier, the water polo team was forced to practice without balls once again in what are now essentially swim practices. 

Boys water polo team captain James Plfaging (12) says that the postponement of Season 1 sports doesn’t come as a surprise to him, especially considering the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, but he remains optimistic.

“It was expected, it’s not really something that came as a surprise. It was going to happen all along. I’m still hoping that we are going to be able to get a season. I think that’s what everyone playing fall sports is hoping,” James said. “Even if it’s a five-week season or something, that would be nice to have, but I’m not really too optimistic about that at this point. But there’s always a chance.”

Like the water polo and football teams, the cross country team has also been holding practice over the past couple months. Practices are either two or three days a week, and they are held at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale and conducted in a socially distanced manner. 

“The kids arrive, and they get checked in wearing their mask. They get scanned on the forehead with the thermometer, and then they all sanitize their hands,” Mia Purnell, cross country team head coach, said. “We take a mile lap around the park, and then, we line up socially distanced and do our warmup plyo[metric] drills in straight lines, no need for them to cross or group together or anything like that. Everything tends to be very single file, or the runners run on polar opposite sides of the trail.”

 Prior to the county escalating to the purple tier, the boys football team was able to work out in the weight room and could practice ball work without pads. Due to the new regulations, the team’s activities have been reduced to watching film together in weekly Zoom meetings and conditioning on Davis Field.

“I think we’re all a little bit heartbroken, especially us seniors because we’ll be missing out on senior night and homecoming. Being a four-year player, it does impact you,” football team member Rohan Varma (12) said. “We want to see those moments lived out, but I think the team realizes that this is bigger than football. If we have to sacrifice our season for the greater good of the community, it is without a question the right thing to do.