CIF releases new calendar for high school sports

Oak Park sports scheduled for the 2020-21 school year

High school sports have been unable to practice with their respective teams in person since March 13. Oak Park Athletics announced through a StudentSquare blast on Sept. 4 that athletes will be allowed to start conditioning with their teams again Monday, Sept. 21.

“It will be nice to see people. As long as the school can actually enforce social distancing … I would say it would be good to go back,” sophomore, soccer player and track and field member Kymara Brodie said.

Girls varsity basketball coach Doris Park-Sherman explained that the first couple months of practice will primarily focus on team bonding and getting her athletes back into shape. 

“I think it’s great that sports are coming back, I know students are wanting to get back around their teammates and back to playing the sports they love,” Park-Sherman wrote to the Talon.

The California Interscholastic Foundation also published a new calendar regarding when high school sports are scheduled to compete. Fall sports (football, cross-country and volleyball) are set to start in December and go through February. Spring sports (basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track and field, tennis, golf, baseball, softball and stunt) will go from March to May. Although dance and cheer are not CIF sports, they will be yearlong.

“In anticipation of athletics starting back up in December, we will be doing Final Clearance for all athletes regardless of season of sport in the second or third week of September. Most of it will be done online. Any athlete who wants to play or thinks they will play will complete Final Clearance, even though we haven’t had tryouts yet,” Athletic Director Tim Chevalier wrote to the Talon.

Final Clearance is used to assure that athletes are up to date with their annual physicals, and will look very similar to the years past.

“Athletes will have their physicals verified (turned in if they haven’t already), athletes will sign off on all of the legal paperwork, and pay their athletic participation contribution. The Athletic Department has ongoing and recurring costs, including upkeep of facilities and a budget to pay officials, and they need to be covered so that an athletic program remains when sports return,” Chevalier wrote.

Summer conditioning is also scheduled to start in a couple of weeks. While no official date has been set, Chevalier estimates it will likely be held in mid-September. It will begin Sept.21, and all sports participating in the Summer Conditioning program will only be allowed to practice outdoors in groups of fourteen athletes or fewer.

“[Summer Conditioning] is not mandatory to participate [in] to tryout for a sport but I would assume most athletes will want to do this,” Chevalier wrote.

Brodie expressed some concerns about being able to practice social distancing during her time spent conditioning, especially soccer since they will have to pass a ball back and forth. There will be various measures taken to insure the safety of Oak Park athletes.

“Eventually, testing will become the new normal and it will be the key to getting back to sports contests. There is a new test that has been approved by the FDA that returns results in less than 45 minutes and costs $4 a test. It is a nasal swab test. It is these types of tests that will qualify athletes to return to practice and competition. I’m excited for it,” Chevalier wrote.

With the current COVID-19 restrictions, nothing is absolute, but as of right now, Oak Park athletes will be able to look forward to modified practices and conditioning.

“We are making all of our decisions with the safety and health of our athletes and coaches as our top priority. We won’t open things up without the proper safety protocols in place,” Chevalier wrote.