Yuba City High baseball coach Dave Rodriguez said he delivered a message to his team shortly after the California Interscholastic Federation announced Friday that the remainder of the high school spring sports season would be canceled.
Rodriguez said the message was simple, but necessary to get the needed closure for both himself and his players.
“Today is the first day of 2021,” Rodriguez recalled telling his team “I reached out to the parents as well. We’re looking forward to next year. It’s not the end (but) the beginning of 2021.”
The 10 section commissioners from around the state held a teleconference and confirmed they had run out of options in the face of a growing number of school districts announcing this week that their schools would remain closed because of social distancing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am not surprised at all,” said Rodriguez on Friday’s decision by the CIF. “I just needed closure.”
The next step, Rodriguez said, is what will happen to the summer training program that starts with the Yuba-Sutter Stripers’ American Legion season on Memorial Day weekend.
Rodriguez said the season has yet to be postponed or canceled. The Stripers’ home games will be played at Yuba City High School unless something arises due to the pandemic.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the section commissioners had discussed allowing schools to play one game this summer if state shelter-in-place orders allow so senior athletes can don their uniform for a final time.
Ultimately, it would be up to each section to decide how to extend the season into the summer.
Sutter coach Stefanie Danna said allowing her players to wear Huskie colors one more time would be fitting given that the 2020 season ended so abruptly.
“Over the course of a season our athletes become more than just athletes, they become part of our family. At the start of every season you know that you only get about 30 games with this specific team and these specific seniors and you begin to prepare yourself with each game that the end of the season is coming,” Danna said. “But this year our season ended so abruptly and we were not prepared for the end of the season emotions.”
Danna said while she had a feeling in the back of her mind that 2020 would end early, she was holding out hope for her players.
“My seniors are taking it pretty hard,” Danna said. “They understand the precautions, but that didn’t take away the fact that they wanted to play. They love playing 24/7.”
As for the fall, which is headlined by high school football, the CIF is expected to form committees to come up with contingency plans.
“We’re going to work with the sections to get out front for the fall,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said via the L.A. Times report.
“All of us hope the contingencies we come up with won’t be needed, but we’ll have plans in place. There’s still so much unknown and still fluid. The plans we discuss with (the) sections will be if we start on time or if we start and then have to pause.”