After months of keeping their distance from athletes, coaches of fall sports teams at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools this week are allowed to start working with them in person again. Just not too close.
Conditioning was scheduled to resume as early as Tuesday for football, volleyball, water polo, cross-country and field hockey teams – with the caveat that they must follow social-distancing protocols.
“There are a lot of restrictions, but it’s good,” Los Altos High volleyball coach Peter Kim said. “It’s good for the kids to get outside and be active rather than sit inside all day, and we want them to be safe.”
Kim stressed the importance of following the county’s guidelines, which he called “the top priority.” Along with having their temperatures checked, participants must wear masks (except when running) and stand 6 feet apart. Cohorts are limited to 14 people, and they will have plenty of hand sanitizer at their disposal.
Mountain View football coach Shelley Smith said he received an enthusiastic response from parents when he emailed them about the start of conditioning.
“I’ve never received such a response before – ‘Great news!’ ‘Best news in a long time!’” Smith said, citing some of the replies. “The parents are so excited to get their kids out of the house.”
Los Altos football coach Dave DeGeronimo said he received a similar response from parents of his players. He also pointed out that because all of the district’s students started school online this year, joining a fall sport has its perks.
“The cool thing about being an athlete, despite not playing right now, is that they’re the only students allowed on campus these days,” he said.
Football and the other fall sports have been pushed to winter because of the pandemic and aren’t permitted to practice until Dec. 14. The football season won’t kick off until Jan. 8, approximately 14 months after the last one ended.
In the meantime, Smith said he and his staff have kept in contact with players through “lots of Zoom calls, both as an entire team and in position groups with their coaches.”
DeGeronimo has connected with his players “using all different technologies,” he said, including Zoom, texting and Hudl, an online platform for coaches and athletes.
Kim – who said “communication is key” – held a Zoom meeting with the captains of his Los Altos volleyball team last month and regularly emails workouts to all players. But conditioning isn’t his biggest concern; Kim is more worried about building team chemistry after such a long layoff.
“During the shutdown, a lot of (volleyball) clubs were holding training camps and most of our players were doing them, so I’m not too concerned with their skills,” he said. “As a group, I want them together – working together.”
An extra challenge
Mountain View girls volleyball coach Dave Winn can’t work with his players until Dec. 14 because of his association with the Mountain View Volleyball Club.
“For now, I’m coaching at MVVC and we’re doing three-week training blocks with stable groups of 12 players three times a week,” he said. “But since I’m already involved with that system, I won’t be allowed to also coach any separate group of
MVHS returning players or incoming frosh. Once the season starts … I’ll be able to coach both club and (high school) together, but there are going to be conflicts to navigate through.”
In the interim, Winn still expects his Spartans to train – either with a club or on their own.
“Fortunately, there are a lot of conditioning videos online they can use,” he said, “but it will come down to being self-sufficient versus a coach telling them what to do.”