Although people were very pleased with how sports are back and operating for the first time in what feels like forever, flaws seem to be arriving more and more as we get deeper and deeper into the sports season. All of those flaws are COVID-19 related, and even though we have now fallen lower on the COVID-19 Tier list and have made it to the orange tier, a huge victory for the entire county, outbreaks and positive COVID-19 tests still seem to be happening in local Santa Barbara High School sports.
Safety is the top priority in all high school sports, and Santa Barbara High School makes sure to have each student-athlete get tested weekly, sometimes multiple times a week for all indoor sports, as it is more dangerous and people are at a higher risk to come into contact with COVID-19. If there is ever to be a positive test, that student’s sports pod is to quarantine for at least 10 days before they can return to both school and sports in order to keep the public safe. In the past few weeks, positive cases in sports have been recorded in numerous scenarios. For example in the past two weeks there has been a positive test in both the boy’s volleyball and boys basketball program, meaning that for the individual pod for each of those sports that had a positive COVID-19 case, players were told to quarantine, even if they had tested negative for COVID-19. All games that that sports team was supposed to play in the next 10 days were rescheduled or canceled completely.
Not only is this unfortunate for the specific sports program that got positive COVID-19 cases, but it is very disappointing for the players who have part of their season on hold due to one positive test. I interviewed one player via Zoom whose sports team was recently put on hold due to a positive case, and they said, “It hurts knowing that a virus that has almost zero percent chance of even killing me can stop my season right as we were starting to play,” No players that I asked are against this quarantine though, as all of them understood that it is the safest option, and they knew that these consequences would come as the sports season kicked off.
As of right now, COVID outbreaks seem to have hit football the hardest, as their original ten-game season was brought down to a mere three-game season, and without any CIF playoffs after that. CIF officials wanted the season to be a shorter five-game season, then two games that Santa Barbara was said to play got canceled as the other team came back with a positive COVID-19 test before the game. It hurts especially for seniors as they had to end their high school careers in a three-game season, but an upside is that they were able to finally have games in the newly renovated Peabody stadium, which was a big deal as Santa Barbara High School has not hosted a football game in years.
The good news for sports right now is that even with some sports pods being put on hold due to positive tests, almost all sports are still continuing without any problems , and it looks like as of right now there will be CIF playoffs for all sports that are competing. How those playoffs will go is not known as of right now, and little information is given out on how they will look, or what will change due to the new COVID-19 regulations. But that is still a plus.
On another note, eight Dons signed their letter of intent to continue their sports career in college recently at Peabody Stadium. Juju Martinez de Amaral from the Dons girls water polo team and Jordan Hayne from the boys water polo team will both take their talent to the next level and go to UCSB. Matt Suh from boys volleyball will go play at Princeton, while Athena Saragoza from girls basketball will go to Regis University. From the Dons baseball team, Oliver McGibben will play at the University of Colorado, and Luke Weshsler will go to Cal Lutheran. Football star Jake Knecht was able to sign his letter of intent to UC Davis. And finally, from track and field, Logan O’Keefe will be heading to Claremont McKenna. We wish all of these athletes the best as they pursue their outstanding goals.
For right now, most are hoping for just a completed season, but in doing so all players, staff members, spectators, and everyone involved with sports must be smart and be safe, wear a mask, social distance, stay out of large crowds, and if you can, please get the vaccine. Our very own Dons sports season is depending on it!