When schools shut down for good in April, moving into distance learning, it meant an end to high school sports within the CIF Southern Section. Baseball, softball, golf and track teams at Big Bear High School hung up uniforms while hoping for the opportunity to wear them again.
It was not to be. CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said it was a devastating situation for all involved. “We tried to hold on as long as we could, and we just ran out of time,” Wigod said in an interview with The Grizzly on May 27. “Obviously the last thing we would’ve wanted to do was to cancel the spring sports seasons. I especially feel bad for our seniors and how much they had invested in this and looked forward to it. We obviously can’t make that up to them. But we can certainly do our best to be prepared to bring high school sports back. And that’s what we’re going to focus on and try to do.”
The Southern Section office may be physically closed but work is still going on behind the scenes. Wigod said the section has a goal to make sure fall, winter and spring sports come back in the 2020-2021 school year. It’s what the 567 member schools and 88 leagues in the section want, he said.
“We are committed and dedicated to doing it,” Wigod said. “This is a call to leadership, and it’s our job to answer that call and deliver.” It’s what what CIF believes schools and most importantly student athletes and all involved want. “We’re going to give it everything we have with what we can control to try to make that happen.”
The first step in securing sports seasons depends on individual schools, districts and leagues, Wigod said. “What does it look like when school starts?” Wigod asked. “Then comes the decision of when to allow athletic teams back. That’s going to be important.”
The CIF is monitoring start dates and decisions with all its members. There has been communication with school superintendents and athletic directors, Wigod said. “Give me a date, and I’ll give you a calendar,” he said. “That is the point. We’re ready for any potential way to get that done. The big question, of course, is when’s the date.”
Big Bear High School athletic director Dave Griffiths said for now things are moving forward. The dead period, a 14-day period when no athletic practices can take place, ends for Big Bear High School on June 26. But that doesn’t mean summer workouts will begin the following week. That will depend on a variety of other factors including health guidelines, the school district and county superintendent guidelines.
“We don’t know what it will look like two weeks from now,” Griffiths said. “I’m hopeful we can get things going, but it needs to be safe for the kids.”
Certain things can still be accomplished in the meantime, Griffiths said. The annual coaches training session will take place as scheduled on June 2, just in a virtual setting, so everyone is prepared for the season the minute the go-ahead is approved. The district is also working through basic things such as physicals and other steps, Griffiths said. “There are a lot of good ideas out there right now,” Griffiths said. “We’re looking for direction from the district. Our No. 1 priority right now is how we’re going to look come Aug. 1.”
Wigod is confident there will be three seasons of sports for the 2020-2021 school year. “Academics come first; we must be cognizant of getting schools open for academic reasons,” Wigod said. “Then, obviously, letting us do what we do, teaching high school athletics, using the classroom outside the building.”
Learn more about what the CIF Southern Section and the Bear Valley Unified School District is doing to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year in the June 3 issue of the Big Bear Grizzly.