COVID has once again spread a blanket of fog over what began as a brilliant winter sports season.
After playing undisturbed for most of the pre-league season, games are on hiatus across the region as teams report continued positive tests for the persistent and dangerous pandemic.
Both Petaluma and Casa Grande had canceled Piner High School Sonoma County Classic games last week. The Petaluma girls saw one of their three West Coast Jamboree games called off and were forced to move to another venue. Casa Grande managed to play in all three of their Jamboree games, but had to find themselves in a different and more competitive bracket. These games will not be invented.
Championship games are more troubling. The Vine Valley Athletic League was scheduled to open the game this week and the matches at Petaluma and Casa Grande were shut down by COVID before they could begin. Casa Grande’s daughters at home against Sonoma and Justin-Siena in Petaluma as well as a Gaucho game on Wednesday at Vintage have been postponed.
On the boys’ side, Casa Grande lost their Tuesday game at Vintage and Petaluma has already called off their Thursday game at Sonoma Valley.
Petaluma’s girls coach Sophie Bihn, two of whose players tested positive, said things were a little more optimistic than they were when the pandemic exploded last year.
“It’s not at all like the cases of last year,” she said. “The players don’t get that sick. It’s better because almost all the children have been vaccinated.
The boys from Petaluma were particularly affected, with up to six players testing positive. “The players are in different situations, some have shown no symptoms while others have had more problems,” said Petaluma coach Anton Lyons.
However, the coach of the Trojans 9-3 remains optimistic. “I think we can get over it,” he said. “I think things will get better.”
Petaluma High athletic director Ray McClintock isn’t sure things are improving quickly. “I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’re going to see in the next two weeks,” he said.
St. Vincent had a boys’ game scheduled against Piner, but by the deadline, a girls’ game on Wednesday and boys and girls’ games on Saturday were still scheduled.
While restriction protocols for individuals and teams are in place, there are not yet specific rules for determining when matches will be postponed or canceled or for making up for postponed matches.
“I just report any contact to the school district and they tell me if I can play or not,” Casa Grande boys coach Chris Gutendorf said.
“It’s a gray area,” McClintock said. “Right now it’s a district decision, but it’s not just a Petaluma issue. I think we’ll have a league meeting soon to discuss the issues. “
North Coast Section Athletics Commissioner Pat Cruickshank said the NCS left decisions to individual school districts. “
“We have schools in 11 different counties and they have different rules and their counties have different rules,” he explained. “We left it to the schools. So far they have done a very good job.
There remains confusion over how long players are quarantined. Coaches agree that, unlike a year ago, when entire teams were quarantined, fully vaccinated players who tested positive can continue to train and play.
It becomes confusing to determine the length of quarantine with differing opinions on how long players are quarantined based on their vaccination status and whether or not they are showing symptoms.
Everyone agrees on one thing. “It’s crazy,” McClintock said.