CIF sports seem ready to resume after stay-at-home order revoked

PRACTICES SET TO START FEB. 1 FOR CROSS COUNTRY AND SWIM/DIVE, MORE TO FOLLOW ON FEB. 15

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Photos by Phillip Brents Granite Hills’ Aiden Keane (top) and Izzy Cox were impact freshmen on the school’s spring 2020 swim team. Both swimmers expect to help drive the Eagles during the upcoming 2021 season.

The indefinite stay-at-home order imposed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom was lifted on Monday for all regions in the state, paving the way for a quicker return to play for high school sports.

San Diego Section Commissioner Joe Heinz said the stay-at-home order was among many items that have contributed to the long road back to the playing field for area teenagers.

The section revealed its latest plan to resume education-based athletics on Jan. 13, with the rescinding of the stay-at-home order the key to resuming athletic competitions.

Conditioning drills have been ongoing. Practices are set to start Feb. 1 for cross country and swimming and diving.

“We’ve talked to most of the conference presidents and we’ve received positive feedback from them,” Heinz said in an upbeat tone. “I think there will be challenges with pools maybe, but hopefully we’ll receive help from some districts.”

Individual schools and school districts may delay participation in particular sports based on local health data, Heinz added.

High school sports shut down in March 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.

Youth sports leaders have since taken direction from national, state and local health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health.

The CDPH issued its latest youth sports guidance on Dec. 14 that gave each sport a risk assessment based on the state’s color-coded tier system.

Heinz said the California Interscholastic Federation, including the San Diego Section, will abide by all CDC and CDPH directives in opening up sports opportunities on campus.

“We (were) just waiting for the stay-at-home order to come off,” Heinz said. “When that happens, we’ll have lots of sports going on.”

Boys and girls golf, boys and girls coed tennis and boys and girls track and field are all set to start practice Feb. 15. Golf and tennis are now cleared to resume competition once student-athletes have accumulated enough practice time.

Track and field may start competitions on March 13.

All those sports are classified as low risk outdoor sports by the CDPH and may operate while their counties remain in the most restrictive Purple Tier.

“Once we get to Feb. 15, we’ll have a lot of sports going on,” Heinz said. “It will feel more like normal. Kids will be out practicing and playing again, and the media will be covering them.”

More sports are expected to open up as well. Once the county enters the lower restrictive Red Tier, Season 2 activities may start in baseball, girls lacrosse and softball on March 13.

When the county reaches the even less restrictive Orange Tier, sports such as boys lacrosse, boys and girls soccer, boys volleyball, and boys and girls water polo may start their seasons.

Soccer is scheduled start Feb. 22. Heinz said the section will open practice for that sport once the county reaches the Red Tier.