Trabuco Hills High School varsity football team scheduled to compete with other schools for upcoming football season

THHS 2019-2020 season football players walk on the field. Alyssa Gervacio/Lariat

Football is back under COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols

High school sports in California were cut short in March 2020 due to the lockdown of the state following the initial outbreak of COVID-19. The new school year started on Aug. 15, 2020, for Trabuco Hills High school, where social distancing protocols were put in place to incorporate in-person school into the hybrid learning dynamic. However, practice for fall sports was still active despite having no competitions to attend. 

The guidelines prevent the teams from competing against players from other schools. However, due to the increased efforts and participation in the “Let Them Play CA” movement, Governor Gavin Newsom recognized the trend, pushing him to address the problem directly. Newsom announced that outdoor sports could compete once the county numbers were below 14 cases per 100,000, becoming a reality in late February. 

The official Trabuco Hills High School Football Instagram account posted their game schedule for the 2021 football season on Feb. 27. The post shows that they are playing against other high school football teams in the area. 

Daryl Beck, the assistant principal and head of athletics at THHS, expressed the athlete’s and staff’s excitement. Beck explained how they could participate in outdoor sports competitions through the “Let Them Play CA” movement. 

“Obviously this has been tough for our students both emotionally and academically,” Beck said. “This provides them the opportunity to move toward a return to normal.” 

The graduating class of 2021 has not had the chance to participate in extracurricular ‘senior year’ events, such as school dances and Friday night football games. Beck explains how the Saddleback Valley Unified School District has supported THHS in its efforts to incorporate COVID-19 restrictions into outdoor sports such as football. 

“I believe that the hope of getting to eventually play has helped many of our student-athletes through this difficult time,” Beck said. 

Alicia Foulk, a first-year principal at THHS, expressed her excitement regarding the recent developments of outdoor sports. While still following the COVID-19 protocols that are put in place to compete in outdoor sports, Foulk hopes that the upcoming season is bound to lift some student spirit on campus once again. 

“Our coaching staff has worked incredibly hard to ensure our athletes continue to stay focused on their academics during this challenging time, and have spent as much time as possible keeping our team conditioned and ready for a potential return to play,” Foulk said. 

Despite the hardships brought upon students by COVID-19, coaches could host sports practices while following COVID-19 state mandates. The developments spearheaded by the “Let Them Play CA” movement, alongside the hard work of the THHS staff, give us hope and brings us closer and closer to allowing all sports to play, including indoor sports. 

“While the sidelines and stands will look different as we have to adhere to the current COVID protocols, the game and spirit will remain the same,” Foulk said. “It will be a true joy to stand on the sidelines in the coming weeks to cheer on our mustangs.”