By Raiza Giorgi

“The first workout was so hard because we were all out shape, but now that we have been back on the field for a few it’s getting better. I am so happy to see my teammates and get our camaraderie back together,” said Tanner Padfield, 16, linebacker for the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Pirates varsity football team. 

Tanner and his teammate Mikey Gills, 16, middle linebacker were running drills with their teammates who were broken up into small cohorts in order to maintain social distancing. 

“Exercising has been great for my mental health as we have been stuck at home doing distance learning where we just stare at a screen for hours a day. It’s not fun. I missed my brotherhood,” Mikey said. 

Both players said they were disappointed to learn that they wouldn’t be returning to school until January 4 when the Board of Education voted to delay reopening. They did say that having the ability to come to school to at least get their workouts in and continue to train for their upcoming season was a positive thing and being on the new field was good too. 

Athletics Director Ashley Coelho submitted a 30-page business proposal this summer to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to get the athletes back to campus for workouts. High school sports will be doing a modified schedule and a delayed season, the CIF State office announced July 20. Because of COVID-19, CIF officials have taken three seasons of sports and condensed it to two seasons of sports.

“Ashley has done a phenomenal job getting the kids back for workouts and communicating with coaches and parents. She has all the different guidelines from the state, county, CIF and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations incorporated. All the coaches and athletes are doing this on their own accord because this is way too important to not happen,” said Josh McClurg, head football coach. 

According to the Pirate Conditioning Protocols Coelho outlined, all coaches and athletes do an online symptom checker before being allowed on campus and everyone wears masks when they come on campus and between rotational workouts. The differing sports from football, track, swimming, water polo, volleyball and cheer have their assigned workout times and locations for parking and workouts. 

When athletes are on the field running, in the pool swimming or doing other exercises they do not wear masks. All athletes remain eight feet apart when doing workouts, and six feet apart when rotating. If a coach or athlete present symptoms or test positive, there will be immediate closure of the areas visited by that individual, and communication will be sent out. 

“All exercises are outside and all the workout equipment is sanitized in between groups,” McClurg added. “Being with the kids and doing physical work is good. The kids have been through a lot these past few months, and getting them back just for a workout is worth all of this effort,” McClurg said. 

While the varsity football team were doing drills, the cross country track team were doing running drills around the track and the cheer team was in the new “pit” area practicing routines. 

“It will be interesting as we continue to learn what we can and can’t do as we get closer to games because at the moment we can’t practice stunts and tumbling. We have given the girls some tumbling to be done at home with the help of parents, but we will continue to do strength training so once we are able to our muscles will be ready for it,” said Cheer Captain Lilli Pace. 

The cheer team practices calls and dances that are usually done between plays, as well as running and weight lifting. To build camaraderie between the girls, Coach Robyn Caplan assigned the varsity team to mentor the junior varsity cheerleaders and help them mentally through distance learning. 

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