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Cerritos athletic personnel preparing for major issues once the games resume


By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

August 13, 2020


Cerritos High will begin its online schooling on Aug. 24, six days after its first athletic event was to be played. As soon as the CIF-Southern Section released its revised athletic calendar for the 2020-2021 year because of the Coronavirus pandemic, co-athletic directors Robert Adams and Todd Denhart began revising their schedules as well as began planning for what will be a trying and unusual athletic season once it begins, which is scheduled to be in November with practices and December for the first wave of games.

Like everything else, there is still, and will continue to be a lot of uncertainty. Adams watched online the press conference that the CIF-SS had with its media members on July 20 and as soon as the revised athletic calendar was released, which will feature a fall season and a heavy-loaded spring season, among other things, the first thing that ran through his mind was apparent.

“As an athletic director, facilities,” Adams said. “Facilities, facilities, facilities. That’s my first reaction to it; that would actually be something that would be a consideration. I watched everything as it was happening live. We tried to stay as current as possible with the information. Between that, and then the county health department and ABC [Unified School District’s] situations…they weren’t in perfect alignment. But they were very close together, coincidentally.”

Adams went on to say that he initially asked how the school was going to be able to handle facilities and thought that they can get around that if they had the opportunity to participate.

Besides the situation with the facilities, Adams pointed out more concerns that the high school will be facing during these unprecedented times.

“One of the things that is of concern is that Cerritos specifically…we’re a nationally ranked academic school,” Adams said. “And that works out fine. But if the rest of the country starts to open up…and California does not where we do something funky with our grades…all of a sudden, our rankings go down because we’re not getting the legitimate grade because we’re not in person.”

Because the athletic calendar will be shortened for this school year, a lot of sacrifices will have to be made, one of them being the two-sport athletes. With the winter sports now being in the spring, except for girls water polo which will be a fall sport this season, Adams admitted it was going to be a concern more so for the females than the males. He also noted that a lot of the seniors who play in the revised spring season will be affected because of their senior activities, i.e. senior awards, prom, graduation if their teams advanced to the CIF playoffs and even the state playoffs.

One of the rules that the CIF has altered for the upcoming school year is that athletes can play with their club team and their high school team in the same season. However, it may not be as easy as it sounds because athletes may opt for their club teams.

“The problem is, with that, is that in some sports, it presents more challenges than other sports,” Adams said. “So, I think with softball and baseball, both of my coaches feel that it’s not going to be a huge issue.”

He also added that it shouldn’t be a big problem with the basketball teams. However, with soccer it’s a much different story.

“It’s a very difficult sport to do seven days a week,” Adams said of soccer. “You really shouldn’t [play seven days a week]. Now, if a team like Cerritos has maybe 75 percent club participation, how many students am I going to lose because they’re just going to choose to stay with club? Or I’m going to help them make the decision that they need to reduce their activity.”

Adams has separate Zoom meetings coming up with incoming freshmen and their families as well as the returning players and their families to try to get them as much information as he has on what is happening at the ABCUSD and how the school and athletic schedules might work.

Of all the concerns that Cerritos will be facing, Adams said his biggest one will be transportation, which seems to be the same with all the other ABCUSD schools. He stated that under the conditions prior to COVID-19, they didn’t have the bus capacity, either physically or financially to be able to adapt to the recommendations that are in place now and be able to get it done. Adams continued to say that the school will have to be creative with its scheduling of events and the transportation, especially once the playoffs begin because the possibility of multiple district schools going far away for playoff events, plus the regular transportation of the elementary, middle school and high school students will exist.

“I’m very appreciative of the Southern Section’s attempt to try to fit in everything,” Adams said. “I have very little criticism for what they’re trying to do and how difficult it is because we’re working on it differently. But as we work through the Department of Health recommendations and the safe practices, I think that if we’re able to have competition in high school athletics this year, by far the largest hurdle not driven by CIF is going to be transportation for us.”

On the topic of the same coach for multiple sports, Cerritos has only two. Denhart coaches the boys and girls golf teams, while Henry Ayesiga coaches boys and girls tennis. Those sports will be played in the spring.

“With Henry, it’s going to involve a lot of different staffing issues,” Adams said. “It’s going to take some different kinds of staffing and some creative scheduling. So, one of the things we’re working with Henry on is, since he is the boys and girls coach, is going to facilities at high schools that have 12 courts. Then, you can take both varsity boys and girls teams together and play them all it once.”

The football schedule had been set prior to the schools being shut down in March. Once the new football calendar was revealed, which does not include a Week Zero game, Cerritos had to drop Buena Park High from its Week Zero contest and find a replacement for its bye week. Within an hour of the CIF announcement of the calendar on July 20, Cerritos was getting inquiries from schools that they normally wouldn’t consider being a legitimate opponent for football. In the end, Cerritos was able to fill its schedule by inserting Segerstrom High where it would have had its bye week and moved everything else before that up a week as there is now no Zero Week game.

On the resumption of beginning practices, Adams predicts that if they do not have regular practices or some sort of an adapted regular football practice and regular volleyball practice by post-Thanksgiving, they’re really going to be at risk for getting that first season started on time.

“We’re eager to try to open up under the parameters the state has had, basically, the conditions of each individual county,” Adams said. “Los Angeles County, basically, will guide what ABC Unified is going to do on campus. I would imagine that as we move back into different tiers, or stages of reopening, I would hope that…right after school starts, if conditions improve to the point where the county will allow it, we would be eager to start going back maybe right after the start of school or the first week of September, something like that.”

In closing, Adams says he doesn’t think that they’ve seen all the possible fallout as it goes through the coaching staffs.

“Our boys volleyball staff has resigned due to the COVID stuff,” he said. “I was somewhat surprised because I thought that might happen with some off campus people just because of financial situations and situations in life; different time commitments necessary for them to survive, and it may not include the ability to coach at the high school level for this season.

“I want to make sure that I’m clear that I welcome the opportunity to have to try to solve these problems because it means that we actually are returning to activity, which is better than not returning to activity,” he later said. “If we don’t return to activity, I don’t have any of these issues. Coach Denhart and I look forward to trying to work our way through them because that means that we have problems to try to solve.”


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