The familiar sight of organized team workouts returned to East County this week after the coronavirus and Mother Nature played some games that sidelined all activity.
Some Liberty Union High School District teams, including football, water polo and cross country, were scheduled to return to modified camps this week for the first time in about a month and a half following a coronavirus-related stoppage and heat and air-quality-related delays.
But in many cases, things were far from normal.
Freedom football head coach Andrew Cotter said his football team was set to take the field, minus any equipment, in small groups of 12 and coaches in masks.
“We are excited to get back out with the kids,” he said. “That is why we all get into this profession. We just have to get back out there, continue to be socially distant, continue all the guidelines set forth by the district. But there is nothing like working with your players.”
The partial return to normal comes after a roller coaster of events sidelined all organized programs, dating back to mid-July.
On the heels of COVID-19-related shelter-in-place regulations, Contra Costa County and the high school district allowed schools to conduct small, 12-player outdoor sport camps beginning in early June. But those activities were halted about a month later, after three district students tested positive for COVID-19, apparently contracted from outside of their county health services–approved workout pods.
The district had aimed for workouts to resume on Aug. 17, but those plans were pushed back a week because of excessive heat, and then a second week because of the poor air quality caused by the region’s fires.
But as the old adage says, good things come to those who wait.
“We had great momentum going in July before we were shut down,” said Heritage football coach Dave Fogelstrom. “The players have been asking for weeks to get back out there…Monday went well. We are behind in our conditioning a little, but the attitude and commitment have not diminished at all. We have a great group of kids who are not going to let COVID, heat warnings or air quality stop them from accomplishing their goals.”
Barring any setbacks, it’s expected that cross-country, football, boys’ and girls’ volleyball, and boys’ and girls’ water polo squads could begin official practices in mid-December, with their seasons beginning soon after.
For now, however, coaches and players alike are just excited to be working out together.
“Felt great to be back on the field today and getting ready for January,” said first-year Liberty football coach Matt Hoefs on Twitter. “You can tell how much the players appreciate a practice after having them taken away.”