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Sports...In a Pandemic

Student athletes stuck with online learning have just recently been allowed to practice and condition with coaches. However, when football players will be able to compete is unknown. According to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), if football games are not green-lighted by March 8, there won’t be a season.


According to Andi Wright, Bella Vista athletic director, sports must follow guidelines put into place by the CIF and Sacramento County COVID-19 Physical Distancing and Safety Plan for Youth Sports.


Students can only participate in one sport and one high school club sport throughout the whole year due to COVID-19. Senior Emily Berry, participated in multiple sports in her earlier years including soccer and tennis. Regarding the current conditions of BV sports during a pandemic she explained, “I think that it is super sad that I won’t be able to play those sports because they gave me a lot of joy of staying in shape and bonding with my teammates over the excitement of going to different schools and all that. I will say though, I’m not that upset because I think that these are the steps we need to take to keep students safe.” (Emily Berry, Senior)


BV football players have been practicing since the summer, although practice was shut down for a month during the holidays. Football players practice Monday-Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Bella Vista’s field. Players’ temperatures are taken and documented 15 minutes before practice. Players review films and plays each week over Zoom with Varsity Head Coach Jim Gray. Players wear cleats, shorts, and masks while practicing in pod groups. When the team is on the field, the stadium is closed and the only equipment used is a football.


“The BV players have been terrific and committed,” claims Coach Gray. “We did not lose any players due to COVID-19 concerns...But players started feeling like a yo yo and started losing hope. Many players sought employment and were afraid to give up the job for another stop-go decision.” (Coach Grey, Staff) Some players had to be quarantined as a safeguard since they might’ve had “third party contact” with someone positive with COVID. Bella Vista and the Booster Club supplied the football team with masks, hand sanitizers, and wipes.


Cross-country practices take place at parks with bike trails. When runners arrive, they must wear masks and have their temperatures taken, then move on to their pod groups. They do warm ups and then begin runs with their groups and are allowed to take their masks off, but must social distance. Leila Swenson, cross-country runner, said that she is not sure what competitions will look like, “But what’s likely going to happen is we’re going to have to wear masks the whole time except when we start racing, like after the start line, and then socially distance,” she clarifies. “They’ll be smaller competitions with just like two or three schools.” (Leila Swenson, Junior) The cross-country season will offer three races over five weeks. Daniel Han, a junior cross country-runner, began last March to use running as a way “to get out of the house during lockdown.” (Daniel Han, Junior)


For Erin Butler, girls volleyball coach, when the maximum number of players in a small group was changed from fourteen to twenty five people, she assumed it was to make practices more easier to work. Players wear masks at practice full-time unless there’s “a lot of physical exertion.” Social distancing is mandatory. The only equipment players can touch are the volleyballs. The coach takes down and puts the net up herself. Used equipment is cleaned after all practices, and during water breaks, participants sanitize their hands. Before practices, players have their temperatures taken, answer questions regarding COVID symptoms, and hand-sanitize.


“When using equipment, we go through a drill and then try our best to spray it down with hand sanitizer before the next,” says Regan Safonov, freshman volleyball player. “Overall, I’m super glad that we’re back and able to play again!” (Regan Safonov, Freshman)


In order to have a volleyball season, Sacramento must be in the orange tier [moderate country risk level] by March 15. Specific information regarding how games will work for volleyball with COVID-19 has not yet been released to the public.


Boys and girls golf began in February at Mather Golf Course with Co-Coach Lawrence Sargeant. They practice Monday-Thursday from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and are divided into three groups: girls, boys varsity and boys junior varsity. Players must stay in their assigned groups and socially distance. Players need to wear their masks when moving from vehicles to the designated area. Prior to practice, players have their temperatures taken with a non-contact thermometer and answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms.


Field hockey began last week . Players must wear masks at all times and stay six feet apart. Participants must provide themselves with their own individual equipment except for field hockey balls which are wiped after practices. Like with other sports, there are “wellness checks” before practice begins.


For girls tennis, their first match is this upcoming Thursday at Inderkum high school. Most weeks practices take place at BV’s courts on Tuesday-Friday from 3:10-5:00 p.m. Prior to practice, players receive health examinations and wear masks all times except for running sprints and always social distance. Like other sports, the girls practice in small groups, constantly clean equipment, and also have a table set with extra masks and hand sanitizers. Girls must bring their own rackets and water bottles and sharing these items is strictly prohibited. There has been no tennis players or staff that were positive with COVID but some players were exposed and had to quarantine. Head Girls Tennis Coach, Lori McDevitt said, “this group of girls really does a great job of helping to protect each other.”


Soon Bella Vista will know if competitions will be allowed for sports as March comes and February fades.


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