For nearly a year, Escondido Charter High School, like the rest of its prep brethren throughout California was forced to halt its athletic pursuits thanks to the impact of the coronavirus. In March of 2020 as elsewhere, sports came to an immediate, all-encompassing and depressing stop on the campus off East Valley Parkway.
But now the White Tigers are back – back to compete, back to chase victories and back to hopefully return to some sort of normalcy. The long and agonizing wait for a resumption of sports action is finally over. Needless to say, the Tigers are mighty glad to again be on the prowl in search of enhancing their sports brand.
Like innumerable administrators in the Golden State, Charter’s Dean of Athletics Greg Brose feels that the lockdown on sports was excessive and could have been moderated at an earlier date. Brose points to countless states across the land that weren’t so draconian in their approach and as a result, allowed youngsters to compete and complete seasons while California’s kids were banished to the sidelines, to linger and suffer there – arguably unnecessarily.
But what’s done is done and past misjudgments can’t be corrected. Brose is just encouraged that the reboot is underway and that the current rollout is showing promise on a number of fronts although it still has some unresolved issues. And yet, there’s no denying that at Charter, a welcomed revival is taking place. “Both the coaches and our athletes are demonstrating a great attitude, enthusiasm and excitement about being able to move forward,” says Brose. “Everyone is just happy to have the opportunity to compete again.”
Last Friday was another positive day for the White Tigers as the soccer and girls’ volleyball teams were able to commence with their initial practice sessions. Sports that were already well into their restart included golf, tennis, track and field, swim and cross country, with the latter two pursuits having previously engaged in actual competitions against other schools.
And more hopeful signs are in the offing. Both baseball and softball are scheduled for March 13 startups while high-profile football has also been cleared and given the go-ahead. Look for the gridders of head coach Jon Goodman to get in 10 practices before commencing with a probable six-game schedule beginning in mid-March and ending on or around April 17.
But as mentioned above, there are some sticking points that haven’t been totally addressed concerning the rollout and how it affects Charter. At present, the sports of ice hockey, basketball and wrestling remain in limbo, with serious doubts about whether those pursuits will ever get underway.
As far as puck is concerned, rink availability has become a thorny consideration while for hoops and grappling, the fact that they are high contact indoor sports is working heavily against them because of perceived coronavirus risk. The dismaying prospect that athletes in those sports won’t be allowed to compete whatsoever becomes more likely with each passing day without some sort of resolution.
It goes without saying that Esco Charter is diligently following all the requisite safety protocols as it relates to protecting its athletes. Precautions such as masking, incorporating proper social distancing, using hand sanitizer and equipment wipe downs are all part and parcel of the overall plan. “We’ve followed the requirements to a tee,” says Brose. Also, look for weekly testing to be administered to football and soccer players due to the heightened interaction of their respective sports.
Brose readily admits that it’s been quite the challenge trying to stay positive amidst the lengthy layoff caused by the heavy hand of COVID-19. “But we’ve tried to stay on top of things,” he explains, “and do all the necessary behind-the-scenes work so that we were ready to get out of the blocks when the time came.” Thanks to insightful preparation, that certainly has been the case.
Though it’s nearly impossible to find anything of a redeeming nature connected with the pandemic, Brose has noticed something that has resonated with him since the virus caused the sports clampdown. “From what I’ve seen so far, the athletes are not only working hard but working in a very committed and special way to really help and support one another,” Brose says. “There’s been a renewed sense of relationship building among themselves that has been truly inspiring to watch.”
And so the White Tigers, for the most part, are once again experiencing the joys, satisfactions, comradery and innumerable benefits that go along with participation in any sporting endeavor. They’re genuinely glad to be back in the arena and it’s their fervent hope that any unwanted stoppages have finally ceased. After all, tigers of any stripe aren’t fond of being cooped up or confined. They crave their space and truth be told, they need the outlet of being able to, among other things, simply play.