By Ray Hamill — The Loggers are back.
On Thursday night the Eureka City Schools District board voted unanimously to allow their high school student athletes to resume sports participation for the first time since the March shutdown.
After hearing overwhelming support for a return during the public comment portion of the discussion, the board was quick to approve a motion, giving the go-ahead for the Loggers to follow H-DNL and county guidelines.
“I know sports are a huge motivator,” board member Lisa Ollivier said, adding that “I believe we can do this safely.”
For now, the student athletes will be allowed to participate in some type of restricted conditioning/practice sessions with games and competition still prohibited.
The board discussed the mental health benefits of being able to participate in sports and other extra curricular activities, as well the importance of giving them the opportunity to get away from their screens.
District superintendent Fred Van Vleck said they will develop a plan and “come up with it quickly,” but that it will be for student athletes at the high school only.
Eureka High principal Jennifer Johnson told the board that the “coaches are definitely ready to move forward and have been chomping at the bit.”
She added that the coaches all have plans in place and have continued to modify them for their own sports.
Most of the other schools in the H-DNL either have some type of conditioning/practice programs already in place or have plans to begin them in the near future.
The board’s discussion came after the reading of 19 public comments on the subject, all of them overwhelmingly in favor of some type of resumption.
Coaches, student athletes and parents all expressed their opinions on the matter, with many citing the mental health benefits of returning to the practice fields.
The potential transfer of students away from Eureka High if the board refused to allow a return was also discussed.
“It’s a necessity for their mental, emotional and physical health,” volleyball head coach Rachel Evans told the board.
“The kids need this,” assistant girls basketball coach Cliff Hart said. “Do this for the kids.”
Senior student athlete Bella Vigil told the board that the lessons learned in sports are just as important as those in the classroom, while fellow senior Ethan Pesch warned that student athletes are in danger of becoming unmotivated without sports.