By Ray Hamill — The upcoming year in prep sports is going to present some unique challenges for the H-DNL and high schools everywhere.
On Monday morning, the California Interscholastic Federation announced that the fall sports seasons will be pushed back to the new year, and that the three traditional seasons — fall, winter and spring — will now be condensed into two.
And that means nine sports will run together here on the North Coast from March to June, with a total of 15 seasons being played simultaneously, boys and girls.
“It’s going to be tough,” Eureka girls basketball head coach Michael Harvey said.
Multi-sport athletes will have decisions to make, with the likes of baseball, basketball, soccer and track and field all slated to compete together and forcing student athletes to pick one over the other.
And that could leave some rosters a little short on numbers, and could very well result in the temporary suspension of some programs.
“To have to compete with basketball in the same year (for student athletes), that will make it extremely difficult for schools of our size,” McKinleyville baseball head coach Scott St. John said. “Some tough decisions are going to have to be made by these kids.”
Other coaches, however, praised the CIF’s decision.
“I applaud the CIF and the NCS,” St. Bernard’s multi-sport coach Matt Tomlin said. “I really do feel that they’re trying to make the best decision for as many kids as possible.
“I feel they got it right and did the best they can, and now it’s up to all of us to see what we can do to make it work.”
McKinleyville football coach Keoki Burbank also believes the CIF powers made the correct decision in difficult circumstances.
“At least the kids get a decision,” Burbank said. “In baseball last year, they didn’t get a decision. So I’m actually pretty happy with the (CIF’s) decision. It’s the best thing we could have hoped for.”
It will, however, still make it tough for the smaller schools to field full teams in multiple sports.
“I don’t think it’s the best situation for the St. Bernard’s of the world, and for the Ferndales of the world, and any small school,” said Tomlin, who will also have to make a decision in the spring whether to coach the Crusaders’ baseball team or their girls basketball team, admitting he won’t be able to coach both of them at the same time.
Harvey too is worried it will be tough in the spring even for Eureka High, the largest school in the H-DNL, with seven different girls programs — softball, basketball, wrestling, soccer, track and field, tennis and golf — slated to compete at the same time.
“It’s going to significantly affect their high school sports experience,” Harvey said of his players, many of whom play two or even three of those sports.
Scheduling games and practice times will also be an issue, with limited facilities at each school, and teams here may end up playing more games against other local teams.