High school football coaches want health officials to clear way for play

De La Salle High’s Justin Alumbaugh and Serra’s Patrick Walsh aren’t used to seeing time run out for their ultra successful football teams. Yet they’re just like every other coach these days, with COVID-19 protocols threatening to further delay a season that isn’t even promised.

While the California Department of Public Health had targeted Jan. 25 as the earliest possible start to high school sports, the agency also said it would reassess the situation by Jan. 4.

That deadline came and went last week, triggering fear of perhaps a longer wait for athletics while Bay Area counties remain under stay-at-home orders.

That’s why Walsh and Alumbaugh, in conjunction with the Walsh-created “Golden State HS Football Coaches Community,” are leading an all-out blitz to deliver a message to both state and county health officials. They’re armed with data showing it will be safe for kids to return to the courts and fields during the pandemic.

“The clock is ticking, that’s why you’re sensing kind of the tone that it’s now time for us to work and get these kids safely back out onto the field,” Walsh told KNBR-680’s “Murph & Mac Show” on Tuesday.

“Right now we’re on hold and we’re just waiting for the state to give us a little more structure, give us a little more hope. And give us the opportunity. we think that we’ve earned it,” Alumbaugh told KNBR. “We’re in the exact same spot we were about 10 1/2 months ago in March. And that’s part of our frustration. There is hope. We’ve been providing hope to our kids.”

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The coaches are hardly alone in their push, though. “Let Them Play CA,” a statewide Facebook group of more than 27,000 parents of athletes, is encouraging parents and players at every high school in California to hold simultaneous rallies Friday at 4 p.m.

Masks are required at the rallies while signs reading “Let Them Play” are strongly encouraged.

The Facebook group is also encouraging parents to send correspondence imploring state government officials to re-open sports.

Walsh and Alumbaugh say they’ll submit some convincing numbers from a coaches survey to health officials that safety can be achieved during a return to athletic competition.

There have been 700,000 total workouts by 15,845 athletes since June, according to data from 200 coaches surveyed in the Golden State coaches community. Out of those workouts have come just five positive cases of COVID-19 traced to the workouts. Also, coaches appeared at workouts more than 100,000 times and just one coach tested positive as a result of those workouts.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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