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New Spring Setup to be Stressful for John Glenn High Athletics

BY LOREN KOPFF • @LORENKOPFF ON TWITTER

August 21, 2020

Outside of a few sports, John Glenn High’s athletics haven’t been too popular over the years. But that hasn’t stopped its student body from being supportive. Mix in the current pandemic and even for a school like Glenn, it can still be stressful for everyone involved, especially for the students and athletes who will now have to wait until at least December to do some cheering.

When the CIF-Southern Section released its 2020-2021 athletic calendar, co-athletic director Linda Parra’s first reaction to it was that the spring was going to be insane with the schedules and the sports being more compacted than ever. The school’s enrollment last year was just under 1,250 and she says her athletes still support some of the programs that are less popular.

“When you’re in a school like John Glenn where your enrollment is low and you share a lot of athletes between multiple sports, it’s a little stressful when you start to think about that we’re going to be playing basketball and wrestling and soccer at the same time as the tennis program or the track and field program or baseball or softball,” Parra said. “It definitely makes me worry about those smaller programs that we’ve always shared athletes with.

“At the same time, it was also a relief to have a schedule to work towards,” she added. “It gives us a time frame to start to plan things, and that’s a relief.”

Even though some schedules had already been put in place, Parra did not want to make any changes after schools were shut down because she knew the [athletic] season would most likely be pushed back. She said she wanted that because she didn’t want to have to scramble once school started.

“Of course, you want safety first; you want to make sure your kids are in the proper conditioning shape before you are ready to start a season, especially because we were off since March,” Parra said. “But I wasn’t anticipating two seasons. I just thought we were going to squish three seasons into half a year. That’s what I was mentally preparing for.”

Parra went on to say that despite the craziness that will be the spring season, it’s okay and the school is going to survive. She’s talked to her coaching staffs to let them know it’s going to be a crazy year for everybody, but it’s their job to let the kids make the most of their high school experience and allow them to do multiple sports in one season. She added that they have to be willing to accommodate and work with everybody.

While most schools list facilities as one of the concerns they will be facing, it won’t be as bad at Glenn. Last year, the school christened its new athletic complex, complete with field turf surfaces for its football, baseball, softball and auxiliary practice fields as well as lighting for all the fields.

“Lucky for us because we have lights and a stadium,” Parra commented. “But for a lot of schools, I think their troubles are going to be the management of their fields because you’re going to have so many teams practicing at the same time. We’re lucky at Glenn because we do have the turf fields and we have lights. So, we can stagger practices one after another into the evening. I’m very thankful for that.”

Parra said that the school is still going to try to help accommodate the other district schools who are still in the process of getting their renovations done. There is still a chance that the La Mirada High boys and girls soccer teams could be using the fields at Glenn for a second straight season as renovations at Goodman Stadium are still ongoing.

“Their athletic director, Christine Mead, just reached out to me and [asked] if I could send her our schedule,” Parra said. “And then we’ll touch base as far as trying to schedule them in. For sure I’m thinking soccer for La Mirada. Hopefully their gym will be done because she didn’t mention that sport to us.”

As far as the coaches, they’re going to be stretched thin in terms of coaching two sports in one season, according to Parra. Prior to COVID-19, Ruben Guerrero was slated to coach boys tennis in the spring after coaching his boys and girls basketball teams in the winter. Now, Parra admits it is going to be a challenge to find a tennis coach as Guerrero will be staying with his basketball obligations. Parra was also slated to be the girls tennis coach in the fall, but those plans have been altered.

“Honestly, on a personal note, I wouldn’t mind coaching tennis and working with those kids because they’re awesome kids,” Parra said. “But [my son] Brandon and [my daughter] Taylor are going to be playing basketball in the spring. That sucks because how do I facilitate John Glenn and still try to make it to a game at Sunny Hills [High]? That’s definitely going to be a challenge, because if there would have been a winter season, I definitely would have done a spring sport to help alleviate some of the stress.”

Another coaching vacancy is girls soccer as last season’s head coach, Raul Robles, is not coming back. She said she would like to hire last season’s assistant to Robles, Suzette Carillo, to take over the girls soccer program.

Staying with the normal winter sports, Parra hinted that wresting head coach Monico Enriquez is not sure that he is going to host all his tournaments just because it’s unknown yet what the rules and regulations are going to be with that sport.

“I don’t think we’ll be as busy hosting as many tournaments as we normally do for that sport,” she said. “But we would like to still host the Juan Enriquez Memorial Classic because that’s just in honor of his brother.”

Another concern, which has been consistent with a lot of other high schools, will be the transportation. Parra says that at Glenn, most of the sports have varsity teams only and because of that, they would be okay because their numbers are smaller with the number of teams that they offer.

“But our transportation…they actually started contracting out a lot last year where we didn’t have enough drivers,” Parra said. “We’re going to do our best to always support our kids because it would be very hard for them to get to a game on their own. Hopefully it’s not a huge stress, but it potentially can be.”

On the topic of scheduling, Parra said about 80 percent of Glenn’s 2020-2021 schedules had already been completed prior to March. She admitted that once the CIF-SS released their athletic calendars on July 20, she had to decide if she wanted to keep the non-league opponents in the same order as originally planned.

“I did that the best I could, but there was just some stuff that you just had to pick a new date,” she said. “And then there were some games where we just couldn’t make anything work. So, we lost that match with that opponent. CIF gives you a maximum number of games and contests you can hold. I don’t think we’re going to be at point where we pack in our schedules completely because we would never practice. It would just be game after game after game and we would lose the practice time.”

Because the football team originally had its bye on Aug. 21, which would have been Zero Week, and with the new scheduling set forth by the CIF-SS, Glenn did not have to worry about finding new opponents. All that needed to happen was move everything up a week to keep everything the same.

Parra indicated that the budget for Glenn is going to be a huge concern because the athletic department doesn’t know what it’s going to look like. Because the school has such low enrollment, according to Parra, she went to her coaches and told them they were getting the minimum but asked them what they really needed as far as uniforms or equipment. Parra added that the athletic department has done a good job in cutting back on costs.

As far as feedback from the coaches at Glenn, Parra said they have been the most accommodating and flexible people she has known because ‘they’re going to roll with it’. She continued by saying she is so blessed not to have a staff that is difficult as some other schools have. As it pertains to the athletes, Parra said they are all anxious to get back on the field or in the gymnasium to practice or condition.

“It’s hard when you can’t give a kid an answer,” Parra said. “They’ve been living since March with all these ‘what-ifs’ and you talk about the emotional stability of a child and how athletics play a huge part of their normal routine. When that’s taken away from them so quickly and for so long, it’s definitely a challenge.

“I know they desperately miss it,” she continued. “We’ve done virtual meetings with our athletes; our coaches have been able to see them online and send them some workout stuff. They’re anxious to get back, but we’re just waiting on the release from the [Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School] to be able to do a modified workout.”

In closing, Parra said that everyone has to be flexible and given the circumstances, they have to make the most of what they have. She is hopeful that the 2021-2022 school year will be back to normal. She also stated that she wants her student athletes to have a great experience regardless of if their seasons are short.

“Maybe they only play league games,” she wondered. “We don’t know what’s going to happen come January. But if we can continue to give our kids a positive experience, keep them connected, make them want to still be in school…that’s kind of what I think our job is right now. Life is always going to have changes and we just have to adapt and be positive because being negative isn’t going to help us at this point.”

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