This article was written by BenitoLink intern Julia Hicks.
On June 23, San Benito High School football athletes returned to the field for practice. After three months of sheltering in place with little gym access, the school was ready to implement safety protocols and precautions for its athletes. Eighty-nine athletes showed up on the multi-purpose field for that first practice.
But on July 17, after only a few weeks on the field, SBHS Athletic Director Tod Thatcher announced the discontinuation of all summer workouts because of San Benito County’s inclusion on the state COVID-19 monitoring list. The fall sports season is now postponed until December.
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) met on July 20 to discuss the future of high school sports. In a press release, they announced their plans for a modified sports schedule. A day later, the CIF’s Central Coast Section announced its sports schedule for high schools on the Central Coast (which includes San Benito High). Under the latest guidelines, outside practices and games are prohibited until Dec. 14.
By moving the start of seasonal sports to December, fall sports such as basketball will be occurring at the same time as spring sports like baseball. For most of the sports, including football, a date was set for sectional playoffs, regional and state championships. However, different sections must plan out their own schedule for the season to meet their county’s pandemic guidelines.
To head football coach Bryan Smith, the canceled practices didn’t come as a surprise. He said it was just a “matter of time we would be shut down,” but the time he had with his athletes was “worth it.”
However, being unable to keep up with his athletes is concerning to him and the other coaches. “The weight training piece in high school football is absolutely necessary to keep our young men safe and healthy,” Smith said.
And the sports season cannot happen if students do not return to campus. If they end up starting in the spring, Smith warns of an “extremely fast turnaround for the next season for all involved.”
Although summer workouts for football were put to a stop, incoming senior and tight/defensive end Joseph Dickerson said he was glad “fall athletes had the opportunity to practice with the team again,” even if it was for a short time.
Dickerson is lucky enough to have a set of weights at home to use during the lockdown. He plans to continue to lift and condition himself, “every week until winter.”
Incoming senior and offensive tackle player Jacob Batelle still has faith in his team that everyone will “stay conditioned and motivated for the season.” Batelle reminded all athletes to “not become discouraged, and most importantly, to not get too comfortable in the situation we are in.”
Although sports seem much different this year, Dickerson urged athletes to “stay positive and healthy,” so everyone can return to their sport with their best foot forward.
Use of the weight room is strictly off limits for all sports and athletes at San Benito High. To provide a way for Smith’s athletes to stay strong, he provided workout plans to his players to follow at home.
“Some have access to weights, some don’t. Many guys were working on their own or in small groups,” he said.
Like Dickerson, Batelle is one of the few student athletes with a home gym.
“I have been lifting six out of seven days,” he said, which consist of certain lifts given out by assistant coach Chris Cameron.
Before the county landed on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list, Batelle was excited to resume summer practices. He said that “getting back on the field is a great feeling in times like these.”
Dickerson was excited too, noting that “the opportunity for us athletes to attend practices with our teammates makes us stronger during this pandemic.” Although summer workouts for football were put to a stop, he was grateful “that we do have a guaranteed season this upcoming winter.”
Mentally and physically ready for pushing himself as an athlete this summer, Batelle said that even with the season postponed, “I’m still very much motivated to get back to work.”
BenitoLink hires interns year-round. Our Inclusionx Internship Program is supported by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Taylor Farms and United Way of San Benito County. We appreciate very much their support and share a common interest in helping area youth develop strong professional skills and improve their job opportunities. If you are interested in supporting our Inclusionx InternshipProgram which offers training and on the job experience in reporting, marketing, sales, graphics, computer development, photography or data research, please send your resume to Lois Locci at email@example.com.