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Artesia deals with new athletic calendar as football needs to fill one spot for complete schedule

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By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter
August 5, 2020

Right about now, high schools in Southern California would be in the thick of their fall practices, whether it’s football, girls volleyball, cross-country or the other sports. But as the 2020-2021 school year is set to begin in a few weeks with online teaching, the athletics will have to wait even longer before they can get back on the field, inside the gymnasium or in the swimming pool.

On July 20, the CIF State Office and CIF-Southern Section released their athletic calendars with the first wave of sports to begin in the middle of December. Artesia High athletic director Joe Veach said he had different reactions to the new athletic calendar put in place and added that there’s a lot of pressure from people who said ‘we should just go on with life and play as it is’.

On the flip side of it, Veach was worried that the CIF-SS would make temporary fixes and constantly move the target date of the first events. Over the past couple of months, many coaches, players, and other athletic personnel were wondering if the fall season would start on time despite the daily changes with the pandemic.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen, but always in the back of my mind, I was thinking, ‘are they going to say we’re sticking to the calendar or we’re just going to bump it a couple of weeks’,” Veach pondered. “We haven’t been able to do anything with the kids. I just don’t think that would have been a good decision because the kids have done nothing for months.”

“I didn’t think [fall sports beginning on time] was going to happen,” he continued. “But you always have that little bit of worse-case scenario kind of in your head.”

Veach went on to say that at first, he was relieved that the fall season was pushed back ‘a good amount’. Then he had to look at it in the big scheme of things and piece everything together to see what it means. He was referring to sports such as boys and girls volleyball, boys and girls golf and boys and girls tennis being in the same season.

“We’re so used to our seasons of sports being what they are,” Veach said. “Boys and girls volleyball together at the same time…I understand why they did it. But what problems does that present for everybody and what problems does it present for us at Artesia High School? That’s just an example, but that was the first one that popped up.”

He did say that with the new calendar, they weren’t going to be rushed into anything, that there will be some problems and there are no good answers for any of this at the present time.

“Nobody is going to give you an answer where you’re going to say, ‘wow, that’s perfect, that will work for everybody’,” Veach said. “That’s not going to happen.”

The football schedule was already set before the schools were shut down and once the new calendar was released, head coach Don Olmstead had to find a replacement for its sixth opponent.

Artesia was originally to host Okanagan Mission Secondary Prep, a school from Kelowna, British Columbia. Other than that, the Pioneers were able to keep the same opponents in the same sequence as before COVID-19.

“We lost one, but we can fill it,” Veach said. “And if push comes to shove and we play nine [games] and we get a bye week instead of going 10 games straight through, then I don’t know if that’s the worst thing in the world.

“Other sports are different because…it doesn’t break down to 10 Fridays over a 10-week span,” he continued. “It’s not as easy to translate the dates. We’re kind of feeling those sports out. I’m letting the coaches kind of…we’re scrapping everything and remaking the schedules with these new dates that CIF has given us.”

For boys volleyball, the first thought Veach had was it might be difficult because head coach Tommy Dube also coaches the girls volleyball team. But his second thought was it might help boys volleyball because some athletes who might be good enough to play the sport are already playing another spring sport. But for this school year, both boys and girls volleyball will be played in the fall season. Veach says as far as numbers, it shouldn’t be an issue with boys volleyball.

Another concern will be in the transportation department, especially for the spring sports, and trying to find enough busses to take teams to road events.

“Transportation is going to be a mess,” Veach said. “Winter is usually our busiest transportation season because it’s boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer and you have wrestling going places and between basketball and soccer, they each play two games a week, sometimes three. If they’re in a tournament, they’ll play four.”

Staying with the transportation theme, Veach is concerned with the number of sports in the spring because of the transportation restrictions Los Angeles County has put out. Normally, schools can put a soccer and basketball team on the same bus. But if students are asked to practice social distance on a school bus, having multiple teams would not work.

As it relates to practice times in the gymnasium for the volleyball, basketball and wrestling teams, Veach says his biggest issue will be with the latter two wanting to get in in December, January and February when volleyball will still be playing.

“Volleyball is going to get priority because they’re in-season,” Veach said. “They’ll get priority and they’ll get the gym time that they need. The issue that I see is when you get to that same season and assuming we can get in there, the basketball teams are going to want to get in. It’s something we’ll have to deal with as it comes up”

Another big concern coming from coaches has been with the multi-sport athlete, especially with the spring sports and how thin it could deplete a team. For example, around 75-85 percent of Artesia’s track and field athletes play another sport which has been moved to the spring season for this upcoming school year. Veach recently had a meeting with the coaches where he told them they would have to be flexible.

Veach said he has no idea when the athletes will be able to practice on the fields or in the gym. The county has to be off its watch list for two weeks before there can be any discussions as far as allowing the athletes back on campus.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Veach said of the 2020-2021 school year. “We’re going to play football in football weather, finally. That will be fun. I’m anxious to see what happens because we’re all hopeful that we can get all this in and get it done. I hope that we can.”

The athletic directors and principals of the 605 League met once in May and June and three times last month. They will meet again next month. The complete 2020-2021 athletic calendar with important dates can be found at www.cifss.org.


STATE OF ARTESIA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS: Winter season strong for Artesia High athletics with fall, spring sports showing promise






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