By Ray Hamill — A crowd of close to 100 student athletes, coaches and fans showed up outside the Ferndale City Hall on Friday afternoon to showcase their support for the “Let Them Play CA” movement.
Organized as one of more than 100 rallies held all across the state on Friday, the crowd at Ferndale featured student athletes from several different H-DNL schools.
The “Let Them Play CA” movement boasts more than 30,000 members and organized the rallies in an effort to pressure Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials to allow high school and youth sports resume competition.
California is one of just a handful of states in the country still not allowing youth sports competition because of COVID-19 concerns.
Several people spoke at the Ferndale rally, citing data that suggests a return to sports could be done safely, as it has been done all around the country.
“Having sports taken away from myself and many other seniors’ final year would be very discouraging, disappointing and disheartening,” Fortuna senior and three-sport athlete Branson Gans told the gathering.
He wasn’t the only student athlete to address the crowd and voice his disappointment and frustration at the current situation.
“We are asking why is it safer to play in 40 other states?” Ferndale senior Jenner Christiansen said. “We now have the data and research that we can do this right and keep our community safe while we still get a chance to participate in sports.”
County Supervisor Rex Bohn also spoke at the rally, telling those in attendance that 46 other states are currently playing high school sports, and doing so safely.
“We need to do the right thing for our kids,” he said.
People in attendance wore their school colors, and the crowd included athletes from different schools standing side-by-side.
“Tonight we stand here together because we want to play,” Fortuna senior Saige Grundman told the gathering, speaking alongside fellow seniors Hallie Short of Ferndale and Bella Vigil of Eureka.
They also spoke of the things they are missing out on during the sports shutdown, which has now been going on for more than 10 months.
“Over the last three years, wearing the Wildcat uniform has brought me some of the greatest joys of my life, and life lessons, and friendships,” Christiansen added. “All I want is for the chance to have this back for my senior year.”