After almost three months off the field and court, high school sports are firing back up in Clovis – in a very measured dose, at least.
Clovis Unified School District allowed for sports, recreation and co-curricular programs to resume starting on Monday, so long as their activities follow the new healthy program guidelines outlined by the district.
These guidelines include, according to the district’s update provided on June 3, a “maximum of 10 participants grouped per instructor/trainer/director” and “physical distancing of at least six feet.” In addition, activities are not permitted to take place in weight rooms and pools at this time.
Despite participation being largely scaled back, the announcement indicated a big first step in reintroducing high school sports to the Fresno/Clovis area during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news was music to Jeff Prieto’s ears, as the Clovis North baseball skipper was one of many coaches who reconnected with players in-person Monday for the first time since spring sports were suspended on March 12.
“We loved getting back on the field and being able to catch up with our guys and get them back in a working environment,” Prieto said.
A few miles away, Clovis West was also in the process of rebooting its athletic programs, and that meant a long-awaited reunion for Clovis West girls basketball coach Craig Campbell and his defending Central Section champion team.
“Our staff really missed interacting with our student-athletes,” Campbell said, “so it was great just to have everyone in the gym again and hear the sneakers squeaking.”
With the use of a basketball not allowed yet at practices, Campbell spent eight hours on Sunday preparing a new training format. The result: a system where players are separated into pods of ten players each, with each pod spending ten minutes on the court before rotating out.
The creative solution worked for the 16-year Golden Eagles head coach, but still, a few difficulties arose from the rules of social distancing.
“Our kids and coaches were happy to see each other and to not share a big hug and get to work was different,” Campbell noted. “But we’ll adjust and appreciate our district being proactive and creative to get these kids back doing what they love.”
Ultimately, that was the primary feeling among administrators, coaches and players who returned to practice Monday. As limited as practices may have been, and despite the continued threat of COVID-19, there was excitement in finally getting back to work.
“I am not sure who was more excited: the coaches or the players,” said Clovis North athletic director Coby Lindsey. “It was a great day.”