SUHSD authorizes fall sports to conduct pre-season conditioning workouts on campus


The model explains how on campus pre-season conditioning workouts will be conducted—each circle represents one cohort made up of 14 student athletes that will have one coach with them each. Each color represents the specific type of training: Yellow is “Football/Conditioning Drills,” Blue is “Football plays/Instruction” and Red is “Bodyweight Exercises.”

Starting Nov. 5, the district has authorized the return of fall sports to the Bonita Vista High (BVH) campus; allowing athletic teams to conduct pre-season conditioning workouts under strict guidelines in accordance with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in compliance with CIF Bylaw 600.2, only clubs operating under the guidance of a governing body can engage in off-season practices. At the moment, BVH Football is the only sports team cleared for pre-season practice in the district.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction. Obviously, there’s no pre-season date in sight, which makes it hard to conceive that you’ll actually be allowed to play. Still, coaches are excited, and players are excited. They’ve [players] probably never been so excited to run a lap in their life. It’s just so good to get out and see the kids rather than staring at that black screen of death on Google Meet or Zoom,” BVH Athletic Director and Football Coach Tyler Arciaga said. 

Pursuant to the District’s Reopening Plan, administration are following a phased approach to reinstating athletics, with the current phase being the first phase. Site administrators, athletic directors and head coaches were required to attend training sessions reviewing several procedures they would need to execute during training or in the event of a student showing symptoms. The proper paperwork was also required to be filled out before any pre-season activities could begin.   

“I know we probably have coaches and other players that might have pre-existing conditions which could exacerbate the symptoms or pose a greater health concern,” Arciaga said. “Like I told the kids, it’s not like a regular football play or even a game, where if we don’t do it right we get a penalty. If we don’t do it right here, this could screw up our whole season. So we can’t fail.” 

Guidelines in accordance with the pandemic were provided by the California Department of Education. They require daily screening procedures for all participants (students and coaches), as well as the mandatory use of face coverings and the maintenance of at least a six feet distance from participants at all times. Other rules included the restriction to outdoor conditioning training only, as well as the need for stable cohorts of fourteen student-athletes with no more than two coaches. No spectators are allowed.

“The kids can’t touch each other, nor can they use equipment. They can’t even pick up a football or use a field hockey stick. Hopefully, we could progress to that, but right now that’s just not in the cards. We can’t give each other hugs or high fives,” Arciaga said. 

To avoid the spread of COVID-19, administration and staff have taken extra precautions to ensure the pre-season conditioning workouts are executed in the most “effective” way possible. Students are required to bring their own water, as locker rooms and water fountains are not available, there is limited bathroom use and participants cannot go inside any buildings such as the weightroom and the gym. However, these strict guidelines prevent student athletes from actively playing their sport.

“They [BVH football players] just want to play football. That’s all that’s on their mind. They have heavy feelings towards playing football. So that’s why they feel the way they do,” Junior Varsity (JV) Football player Tabari Taper-Rodriguez said. 

Arciaga has not had a chance to meet the new student athletes enrolled in BVH Football in person, and is hoping to “get to know them outside of the black screen of death.” Although members are not required to attend pre-season conditioning workouts, Arciaga hopes that many do attend, as members of the BVH Football look forward to seeing returning players as well as new ones, according to Rodriguez.

“It gives us a feeling of being together again,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to start building that chemistry, for that we need for the football season because you can’t be a good football team with no chemistry. So, that’s definitely what we’re trying to do.”

Although strict guidelines and regulations are in place for participants, Arciaga hopes to take advantage of the opportunity given and do their best.

“It gives them [student athletes] hope. We’ve been doing Zoom meetings, and attendance has been down because there’s no hope. There’s nothing to look forward to. But now that they have this, there’s something to grasp onto. I think it’s really giving the kids some excitement and its stuff that they love to do. It has reinvigorated not only the hopes of the players but the coaches as well,” Arciaga said.  

On-campus conditioning workouts have since been postponed due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, as well as the three week stay at home order issued by the governor. However before the conditioning workouts were postponed, other fall sports had begun conditioning workouts on campus as well, such as Girls Field Hockey. 

“I was really happy. I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally get in shape. But at the same time, I was really hesitant. I was kind of scared because of what’s been going on with COVID,” senior and forward Sachiko Kure said. 

According to Girls Field Hockey coach Bree Paxton, Arciaga played a big part in keeping the team informed with any updates regarding the return to on-campus training and activities. As such, the team was cleared for on-campus conditioning and allowed back on campus with regulations in place.   

“I think any conditioning is beneficial, because I know it’s really hard for anybody, especially an athlete, to get back into shape. There’s a difference between being healthy and actually doing physical activity. It takes a lot of work. So I think doing the conditioning really helps some of us just to get that feeling back in,” Kure said.  

Paxton hoped to continue on-campus workouts in an effort to help the team get back into their habits as student athletes that they had left on the field.   

“We have really amazing girls. We have a bunch of talent on the team. If we had more support from our school, the girls would really be happy about it,” Paxton said. “We want to bring pride to our school.”

This piece was updated on Dec. 18, 2020.