Manteca Unified School District has given the go-ahead for its five high schools to begin their summer workout programs starting next Monday.
The announcement was made in a press release sent to families on Thursday night.
“This is the news we've been waiting for,” Manteca High football coach Mark Varnum said. I've been checking my email every day, hoping and waiting. Our kids have been out working pretty much all year long, and it's been tough the past few months. We're fired up and ready to go.”
The news comes as Ripon Christian ends its second week of training for football and volleyball as all other schools in the Manteca area, including Ripon High, remain closed. In Stanislaus County, Central Catholic was among the schools to kick off conditioning on Monday. On that same day, Oakdale Joint Unified announced that Oakdale High may begin team activities next on June 15.
Central Catholic, Oakdale and Manteca shared the Valley Oak League football championship this past fall. High school teams had not been able to meet for practices since the spring sports season was halted by the onset of the COVIC-19 pandemic in mid-March.
“It was interesting that every day another team gets to practice while the rest of us fall behind,” Varnum said. “We definitely used it as motivation for the kids on their personal workouts. If they're not doing the work, there are teams on our schedule that are.”
His Buffaloes along with fall sports teams from East Union, Sierra, Lathrop and Weston Ranch must follow certain protocols as they begin to meet face-to-face for the first time next week.
Sports-specific equipment is not allowed, as team activities are limited to conditioning and skill-based drills and must all take place outdoors. Locker rooms are to remain closed, and social distancing remains an emphasis. Athletes must not be in groups greater than 25 per coach.
The Sac-Joaquin Section's fall sports season schedule remains unchanged and is set to begin on Aug. 21, but that does not mean there will be a fall sports season even as school districts reopen campuses to its student-athletes. Districts will continue to await approval from local health officials before allowing official team practices and competitions.
Varnum said the athletes will just be glad to get out of the house, for the time being.
“They need it,” Varnum said. “They've been going stir crazy and so have the coaches. It's definitely time. We'll continue to stay safe and do everything right. We've just been chomping at the bit since March to get back.”