Athletes Make ‘Smooth’ Return to Workouts at SPHS

Photo courtesy SPUSD
Tiger football players work out at Ray Solari Stadium. If all goes as planned, South Pasadena’s grid season will kick off on Friday, Jan. 8, when the Tigers are scheduled to play Viewpoint at 7 p.m.

For the first time since Friday, March 13 — an ominous date if there ever was one — South Pasadena High School welcomed student-athletes back to campus this month to begin training and conditioning, using some of the facilities that had been closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Participants in sports belonging to Season 1 — including cross-country, football, volleyball and water polo — in the California Interscholastic Federation’s revised schedule for the 2020-21 academic year have begun workouts. Season 2 athletes — those participating in badminton, basketball, baseball, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and wrestling — will commence training in December.

Workouts follow strict guidelines, as all training and conditioning will take place outdoors, require that masks be worn and call for participants to assemble in “pods” of no more than 12 student-athletes. Participants must also complete a physical before attending in-person training. Students will be required to complete a health screening every day before training begins, and the use of balls is greatly limited.

All guidelines are in accordance with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the National Federation of State High School Associations and California Interscholastic Federation, according to Anthony Chan, SPHS’ director of athletics.

“Things are going very smoothly,” said Chan. “At this point we have worked out the kinks that can be expected during the reopening and we are rigorously adhering to county guidelines.”

Chan said coaches are “doing a great job of communicating” and offering creative feedback.

“Every night, we are thinking ‘How can we improve this?’” he said. “There is a lot of extra planning that has gone into this process and I appreciate their cooperation. We are looking for all of the little things that allow us to stay safe and run efficient practices.”

Chan also said it is “exciting” to see the student-athletes returning to campus.

“Hopefully we can get even more people back in the next couple weeks,” he added.

All SPHS athletic facilities will remain closed to the community and outside organizations in accordance with county guidelines.

On July 20, the CIF announced an updated schedule that retained all previous sports but employs a two-season format that is scheduled to begin in December. The CIF’s new calendar postponed the beginning of the traditional fall season — Season 1 — to that month, with several sports being shuffled between seasons. The revised calendar sets the last day for regional or state football playoffs as April 17. The last day for all other rescheduled Season 1 sports will be sometime between March 20 and April 17.

Winter sports, such as basketball, will be woven into spring sports, with regional or state playoffs ending June 19; those offerings are now designated as Season 2.

The typical athletic year contains three individual seasons, but the CIF chose to reduce the number to two and move some of the individual sports to accommodate the new arrangement. Besides the sports mentioned above, Season 1 will include field hockey and gymnastics.

Season 2 will begin in March.

SPHS’ first game, a girls’ volleyball match pitting the Tigers against Whittier Christian, is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 5.  The Tigers’ football season kicks off on Friday, Jan. 8, when South Pasadena visits Viewpoint at 7 p.m.