The uncertainty surrounding whether there would be high school athletics during the 2020-21 school year was cleared up Monday -- at least from a scheduling standpoint -- when state and local officials announced timelines that postpone fall sports until likely the second semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The California Interscholastic Federation released its schedule at 9 a.m. with the statement saying there would be no sports played this fall, with those sports moved back until January 2021, with practices starting in mid-December. Under the CIF timeline, section football playoffs would be completed by April 10, with the state championships finishing by April 17.
This is of course if restrictions relating to the COVID-19 crisis are lifted.
For the North Coast Section, there will be two high school seasons, instead of the usual three (fall, winter and spring).
The revised "fall" season will consist of football, volleyball (boys and girls), water polo, cross-country and traditional competitive cheer.
The new "spring" season will consist of baseball, softball, basketball, competitive cheer (stunt), golf (boys and girls), lacrosse (boys and girls), soccer (boys and girls), tennis (boys and girls), track and field (boys and girls), swimming (boys and girls) and wrestling (boys and girls).
The blending of some sports into the same season -- volleyball and tennis come to mind -- could create some coaching nightmares.
At Foothill High School, volleyball coach Dusty Collins has been the longtime coach of both the boys and the girls teams for the Falcons. He is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the East Bay Athletic League, but now is staring at the possibility of coaching only one of the teams because both will compete in the same season.
"I just now looked at it all," Collins said when reached Monday. "Practice would be doable, but if it's like basketball where the teams play on the same night at different locations, it wouldn't be possible. It wouldn't be in the best interests of the kids to try."
CIF and NCS officials have given the date parameters, but it will still be up to the individual leagues to determine the schedules -- locally, that means the East Bay Athletic League.
One other move by CIF announced on Monday relates to outside competition and states: "Due to the need to move sports to non-traditional times of the year, the CIF is temporarily suspending Bylaws 600, 601, 602, 603, 604, and 605 for all sports for the 2020-21 school year. Accordingly, students will be allowed to participate on an outside team at the same time they participate on their high school team. As per CIF Article 23, local schools, school districts, leagues, and Sections may develop a more restrictive rule than the CIF State Office with respect to the aforementioned Bylaws."
A few hours later after the CIF announcement, NCS put out a calendar for the year with scheduled starting dates for practices.
The fall sports will begin practice Dec. 14, 2020.
Regarding football, the window from Dec. 25 to Jan. 2 is where teams will be allowed to play a scrimmage provided both schools have had at least 10 days of practice. The first date a regular season game can be played is Jan. 6. The league season will end March 20, with the NCS finals to be played April 9 or 10.
Spring sports have a variety of starting dates for practice.
Soccer has a first practice date of Feb. 22. Swimming, tennis and wrestling can begin on March 8. Baseball, softball, basketball, golf, lacrosse and tennis will start March 15.
There are going to be logistical issues in the spring as facilities are going to be impacted at both Amador Valley and Foothill. With boys and girls tennis taking place in the same season, there will be adjustments for court space, with use of city facilities a possible solution.
Soccer, lacrosse and track will have to share use of the football field, with there being possible spill over to other school fields, or even city facilities. This could also impact youth sports in the town.
Collins, who was the Foothill athletic director for 10 years before stepping down this last year, said he knows the potential problems of scheduling.
"We were told we would be required to be creative," Collins said. "The cities are going to have to come in and work together with the schools. They haven't worked well together in the past, but they will have to if there is going to be any chance of this working."
It is not going to be easy, but it can and will be worked out. It's what the city needs, and it is what the kids need. Let us hope everyone works together for the benefit of the kids and we get this done.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]