San Benito High fall sports put on hold

Uncertain state guidelines force CIF to delay the season

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San Benito High junior Alejandro Cosio looks for an open lane to run through in the second quarter of Friday's Cental Coast Section first round playoff game against Aptos High. (Juan Reyes — The Pajaronian)

Student-athletes at San Benito High and all those around the state will have to wait even longer to get back into competition as the state announced another setback for the start of prep sports.   

Public information officer Adam Breen announced in an email on Dec. 1 that the California Department of Public Health postponed the issuance of its updated Covid-19 youth sports guidance, causing the CIF to delay fall sports including full practice and competition start dates for high schools.

According to Breen, the scheduled Dec. 14 start date for Season 1—which includes football, cheer, boys’ and girls’ volleyball, water polo, cross country and field hockey—will be delayed to no sooner than Jan. 2, 2021.

Athletic director Tod Thatcher said the boys’ volleyball program, which had its season canceled last spring, has been moved back to the Spring 2021 season.

“While our student-athletes and coaches understand the postponement due to the spike in Covid-19 [cases] statewide, it doesn’t make it any easier for all involved,” Thatcher said. “While I’m sure that there is disappointment and frustration, our student-athletes will continue to work extremely hard in our conditioning cohorts in preparation of a January start date.”

The CIF also announced that the regional and state championships for fall sports were cancelled. Thatcher mentioned that additional updates will be announced when they are made available.

In a statement, the CIF said that it “is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis. This revision to the CIF State 2020-21 Season 1 Sports calendar offers our Sections and Leagues the flexibility and needed time to plan for the return to practice and competition once updated guidance is provided by the California Department of Public Health.”

The San Benito High athletics department created 42 cohorts made up of more than 450 students who have been conditioning since mid-October. The Central Coast Section previously said these conditioning cohorts may continue through Dec. 11. Thatcher mentioned that several of the fall sports programs participated in a month of conditioning cohorts in June and July. 

“I am very proud of all of our student-athletes who have remained positive and have made significant gains in their physical conditioning during their participation in their respective cohorts,” he said. “Additionally, I am thankful for our dedicated Baler coaching staff who have continued to work with our student-athletes on the field, support our kids academically and continue to mentor them to be Baler Strong.”