Photo courtesy of @Bgamesports (Keunho Kim)
Burlingame’s football teams officially started practicing on Feb. 1, after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Players] are ecstatic. They are happy to be with their friends; they are happy to see their coaches. It’s been a real joy,” head varsity football coach John Philipopoulos said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health updated California’s COVID-19 guidelines on Dec. 14 to allow practice for select school sports to resume at a limited capacity. Subsequent to that order, regional stay at home orders were issued due to surging cases of COVID-19 throughout most of California. After regional orders were lifted on Jan. 25, Burlingame’s football teams officially started practicing on Feb. 1. COVID-19-safe practicing and the usage of some shared equipment is now allowed.
“We have over 80 students showing up every day… and we feel really good about our procedures and protocols that are put in place” Philipopoulos said.
At practice, players remain outdoors, have their temperatures taken, wear masks, respond to a COVID-19 questionnaire and social distance to keep themselves and others safe. Coaches are also periodically tested and so far all results have been negative.
Social distancing and being outdoors limits many aspects of practice that would have been carried out under regular circumstances. Due to football being a contact sport, these limitations make this season like no other. Drills that require close contact with other players are not allowed, and players cannot supplement drills with conditioning in the weight room as they would have in past years. In addition to limited drills and activities, practices are reduced as the team meets only four times a week, as opposed to its typical six practices per week in previous seasons.
“It’s been great being able to come back to practice and seeing the team…hopefully, the team will actually be able to play real games in the near future,” junior Nolan Rossi said.
Much of the football organization’s future is uncertain. No games have been scheduled because of San Mateo County’s position in the purple tier. Before games are allowed to be scheduled and played, the county must return to the orange tier. Currently there is a rule in place that states if the county does not return to the proper tier by March 1, the season is canceled. Although there is a possibility this mandate might change, all players and coaches must simply hope for the best and continue practicing as much as they are permitted to. Both the players and coaches remain hopeful that COVID-19 cases will continue to drop, lifting restrictions and giving the team more freedom to practice.
“It’s a safe environment. The kids are happy, the coaches are happy. Kids are getting better. It’s good for their physical health, it’s good for their mental health. We look forward to continued improvement in the area of Covid and less and less restrictions, and eventually getting back to some sense of normalcy. I’m excited that athletics is leading the way,” Philipopoulos said.