Updated July 21, 2:45 p.m.
The State CIF announced a revised 2020-21 athletic calendar and two-season format and most of California's 10 sections followed with season-of-sport schedule dates. If the Golden State can get the novel coronavirus pandemic under control enough to return to in-class learning and thus athletics, we're looking a a sports calendar that will launch in December and run through late June.
What follows are reactions, statements and comments about today's news from across CA.
"I would say that the CIF did a great job with this. Everyone gets functional seasons ... it should be a time when vaccines have been released and things are returning to normal. I give CIF an 'A' grade for efforts in this, especially if we are allowed to compete in somewhat normal invitationals during these seasons."
With Southern Section allocating 10 weeks of competition before each sports' week for each league's finals, the majority of invites originally scheduled can resemble what was planned, except for moving the dates into 2021. A virtual meeting of various meet directors throughout California will take place on Wednesday morning to better coordinate to the adjustments.
In what will be a nice change for cross country, if given approval from the county and state health offices, athletes and coaches will have the pleasure of training in much cooler temperatures in preparation for the season. Whereas, the average temperature for Los Angeles is 83-85 degrees in August and September, they will welcome the 68-69 degree average temps in early 2021.
As a member of the Southern Section Cross Country advisory committee member and longtime coach at Martin Luther King High, Brad Peters mentioned, "XC in the winter actually sounds like fun! Isn't mud supposed to part of the sport?"
In Riverside, the average temperatures hover between 91-94 degrees throughout August and September. With the proposed schedule change, Riverside averages winter temps between 67-68 degrees.
Ken Quinn is the Serrano head coach and a member of both Southern Section advisory committees. He mentioned how they will face some challenges in training at their 6,000 feet elevation during the winter but the weather 'down the hill' is perfect in January.
Jay Stepp, also on both advisory committees, welcomes how the Southern Section did not shorten the season. Stepp shared how track and field may take some hits in that it competes during the soccer and basketball seasons now. Conducting track and field workouts, along with sharing facilities with soccer (along with soccer games) will be challenging. Athletes that compete in those other two sports may not be able to do track in 2021.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the assumption that schools will be returning back to on-campus learning by December. So, as excited as some are to see a schedule and the window of hope for their athletes and programs - this is not a foregone conclusion.
Most that I spoke to still cautioned that we're nowhere close to conquering the COVID-19 pandemic and that we still have a lot of work to do in regard to getting the kids off to a successful start with the initial distance learning model.
Central Coast Section
Patrick McCrystle, Bellarmine College Prep, head coach
"My initial reaction is relief that we will have a season! I was really afraid that XC -- and all Fall sports -- might go the way of last Spring, and be cancelled. Now, at least, we have dates, and I am very excited to be able to plan. It will take all kinds of adjustments, but I think it will be very doable.
"I am thankful to all the CIF officials who have undoubtedly put in a great deal of time to be able to create this possibility for all high school student-athletes. Now, we have to figure out how we can safely make something this Fall for all the students who have been training so hard.
"I look forward to creative collaboration with all the great coaches in California so we can put together some virtual competitions."
North Coast Section
"This is the effort of many individuals and groups that have been charged with finding solutions to an unprecedented challenge in our lives. All of us know the importance of education-based athletics to our student-athletes, schools, and communities. This calendar considers the physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of those students that we are so fortunate to serve in our section and throughout the state. This upcoming school year will require creativity, flexibility, and working together to best serve those student-athletes. Finally, I want you to know that from start, the focus has been on those young men and women, and I commend everyone involved for never wavering from that. This calendar and the revisions that go with it are about our students!"
Jason Oswalt, Amador Valley, head coach
"My first thought was that I was really looking forward to going to the Olympic Trials this summer and now I can't because we will be having section and state competitions on the same two weekends.
"I am the head cross country and track coach, and my next thought was about how hard it is going to be during the overlap of the two seasons. March 15th is the first day of track practice. It is also the Monday before the NCS cross country meet. So I will be responsible for figuring out all of the first day stuff for track and at the same time trying to prepare our varsity cross country teams for their most important race of the season. That's going to be really tough.
"Then we'd have the state meet the following weekend.
"As for the athletes who will be competing in cross country and track, I don't think it will be too difficult for the pure distance runners who plan to focus on the 3200m in the spring, but the transition will be tough for everyone else.
"Our cross country team, like many, includes athletes from different event groups. We have a jumper, several sprinters, and several hurdlers who compete on our team. Even if they don't run varsity at the end of the season, our league meet will be one week before the start of track. That will be a sharp training transition. If they do run varsity, it will be even harder because they will join their event group in track already in progress.
"I feel sorry for John Lester, because he has been very open about his goals about leading the cross country team, helping the team win league in track, winning the state meet, and qualifying for the Olympic Trials. It's going to be really hard to try to peak for a 5K in on March 27th and then run an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 800m. And even if he did manage to qualify, now he has to choose between his high school post season and the trials.
"So with the new schedule, now we will have to sit down and figure out which of these goals are the most important to him and come up with a new plan for how to reach those.
"So those are the negatives. But if I learned anything this past spring, it was that in even the most adverse circumstances, there are opportunities to be found. The opportunity here is that kids are going to be able to be involved in organized training for a long time. For many kids, this could be the longest stint of training they've ever had. If athletes are patient and disciplined and coaches and athletes are smart, we are going to see a lot of athletes this winter and spring who reach fitness levels that they thought were impossible. So I'm looking forward to that.
"Last spring, when the pandemic fell on us like a bomb, it kind of shattered our worlds and we didn't quite know how to react. A lot of athletes became disengaged with their training and I think that was really OK for the moment. But we are months into this now and we have some perspective. There are no excuses this fall. Athletes who want to take the next step will commit to it and do it and I expect to see that from athletes from all over the state. I am looking forward."
Carin Marrs, University, head coach
"My athletes' first responses were, 'Can we please go to Mt SAC, Carin? That course in the rain would be SO MUCH FUN!'
"They are so optimistic and being with those kids in person has been the highlight of my summer.
"My first reactions were that I'm grateful that the CIF didn't eliminate fall sports like many NCAA conferences have done. I like the '2 seasons/3 months each' plan better than the '3 seasons/2 months each' schedule that I was anticipating, though I know it poses problems for some multi-sport athletes, and I feel for them. Overall, I was pleased to hear the announcement and relieved to be able to give my kids some dates, even if they are tentative.
"While there are a million barriers in front of us before the CIF's plan can become a reality, I strongly believe that coaches, athletes, and administrators can create cross country and track and field meets that adhere to safety protocols while providing meaningful competition. It will take time to hammer out the details but we have plenty of that right now and motivation to return to racing has never been higher. As coaches and athletes, we are uniquely equipped to get creative when things don't go according to plan. Finding ways to create good experiences for kids despite obstacles in a non-revenue sport is what we've always done and we'll figure out a way to make it happen this year, too."
The Northern Section, which is not as severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as most of the rest of the state, has opted to maintain its regular seasons of sport calendar, announcing the following via a link on Twitter:
"Many students are primarily motivated to succeed in school by the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities, most specifically interscholastic athletics. The CIF-Northern Section met on Friday to consider the re-opening of member schools and the effects of the pandemic on member school athletics.
"After considering multiple factors influencing any decision to re-start athletic participation in member schools in a safe and consistent manner, and more specifically the impacts on eventual CIF-NS playoffs and CIF State championship playoffs, the following decisions were made:
- CIF-NS member school teams will begin league play when the member school districts' County Health officers approve the implementation of youth sports, including high school athletics
- This decision could result in the removal of some sports from CIF State Championship-level playoffs
- CIF-NS member school teams may have the opportunity to compete outside league play when the member school districts' County Health officers approve the implementation of youth sports, including high school athletics
- This decision could result in teams in one county playing teams outside their league in another county.
"It is still the intent of the CIF-NS to host a Section playoff for fall sports using a modified playoff structure."
San Diego Section
From Joe Heinz, who has been on board as the new San Diego Section Commissioner for all of two weeks:
"All of the Commissioners' goal was normalcy. The commissioners have spent countless hours on the plan that would be the most realistic with a timeline that hopefully will work. We're turning three seasons into two.
"One of the goals was to have a "full" season for each sport we offer with a calendar that works for everyone. There is, however, still of a lot of uncertainty around the state. We hope by December we have a green light to go.
"Now that we know the end dates, we can work backward. There are going to be challenges. XC/Track Invitationals can be held as before. Each sport is unique and we're looking to our advisory committees for each sport to work out the playoff dates."
Bill Vice, La Costa Canyon, head coach
"I think this will affect some schools' numbers of participants, especially those who would just come out late.
"The athletes saw their spirits crushed this spring -- it has been a real roller-coaster. I've told my runners that now is when we find out who is really a champion; that it's not the time to just give up.
"We're going day by day, even minute by minute, rolling with the punches to adapt to what is happening. I think people don't appreciate how flexible and adaptable kids are. But it's the apprehension of not knowing. At least now we know and can plan accordingly."
Stormy Wallace, Sage Creek (junior distance runner)
"I'm happy just having a season. It has been hard to stay motivated not knowing anything for certain -- it's been a weird time. I've just kept training and had some time trials to see where I was (running 10:55 for 3200 meters without competition). This is a good test for when I go from high school to college, to be flexible and handle changes."
Sydney Weaber, La Costa Canyon (senior distance runner and SDS Division II champion)
"I'm pretty excited because this gives us a normal season, even if it is later. It's different because nothing like this has ever happened before. I'm not in the best shape of my life but I'm about where I would be if we were starting in September, just doing more endurance runs. Now we have a specific date and it becomes a driving factor. What I'll miss is helping the freshmen like I was helped when I was a freshman with runners like Kristin Fahy, McKenna Brown, Natalie Schroeder and Jessica Riedman. We'll help all that we can but we have to wait until January."
Dan Geiger, Cathedral Catholic, head coach
"I had a feeling this was coming anyway. I don't believe in ramping up the mileage over the summer normally so the goal now will be to keep everyone healthy and interested. The good kids who care about running won't let this affect them. We don't want to push too much too soon and it does present a dilemma in that we peak for the state meet in cross country and now we go right into track. Usually there is a two week break at least. As a coach, I'll have to really rely on my assistants much more this year. One of the problems is we'll have lacrosse, soccer and track and field using the same facilities at the same time. We have two fields, some schools only have one.
"Unless you're Great Oak or Long Beach Poly, having the state meet at the end of June won't affect us that much. Taking 5-6 kids to state is a big deal for us. But 90% of the schools will have graduated by then.
"What we learned this spring is just how much the kids lose when you don't have school, and not just sports. Things like graduation, the prom and Senior Night at Disneyland are things that stick with you the rest of your life.
"This will definitely change recruiting. The seniors will have to be involved in the recruiting process much more. Colleges, too, will have to be more aggressive and maybe even call a coach(he said factiously), especially cross country, because now that season is really late.
"It will definitely be more challenging for a coach, especially in on-line learning continues very long."
uncertainty, to deliver fall, winter and spring sports for the 2020-21 school year it will require vision, flexibility, cooperation, teamwork and an unwavering commitment from all involved to answer this call to leadership.
"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, which we are accomplishing for the purposes of providing our young men and women with athletic opportunities during the 2020-21 school year. It is my sincere hope and expectation that we all are ready to embrace the challenges that lie ahead as we embark on this journey together."
Robert Grove, Vista del Lago, head coach
"My first thought is that I'm not surprised. I was very concerned about the season as the number of positive cases were gone up through the summer.
"I was really lifted up after our Zoom meeting with the athletes. Our captains each spoke up about what great news this was that they were going to have a season. They all took the news so positively that I could not help but feel the same.
"We will take some time to figure out our training cycles, but as I told the kids yesterday, this is going to be a great time to build strength that will carry on with them for years to come. This allows more of a professional approach where the Fall is used to gain strength while the fast racing takes place in the late Spring and early Summer."
"This plan looks workable to me. It's a good plan given the complicated situation they had to deal with. I'm looking forward to both seasons!"
MileSplitCA contributors Steve Brand, Mark Gardner and Albert Caruana contributed to this report.