“It’s just fun playing with other kids with other kids around.”
Noah Bouzoubaa looked forward to playing with someone other than his brother, Ilias.
It might happen pretty soon. The State of California’s Department of Public Health issued a waiver allowing youth sports to begin practicing with some strict regulations in place to protect players and coaches.
It would be a blessing for Noah and Ilias, ages 9 and 11 respectively, who participate in basketball, tennis, and soccer. They’ve survived playing one-on-one since March.
“It’s a little boring at first, sitting at home, so we would come play in the morning,” they said while speaking over each other.
“It’s frustrating. You know? The kids want to play,” said girls softball and field hockey coach Michael Gross.
He’s happy the state issued the waiver, but he argued it’s not as easy as simply showing up to the field.
“To be honest, no. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to start,” said Coach Gross while staring at an empty softball field. “Everyone understands the safety issue. That’s not the problem. It’s just the rules seem to be different for every jurisdiction, every state, even every county in the state.”
Public health officials said teams should practice outside with a regular group. Players should be spaced out at least six feet apart and wear masks when possible. Equipment shouldn’t be shared, but if it is it needs to be cleaned in between uses. There are no scrimmages and certainly no games.
Gross said parents and teams found a way to compete by heading out to states where youth sports rules aren’t as restrictive.
“There’s teams going to Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Utah, all over, to go play,” he said.
That’s an expensive option to allow children to play sports.
“It’s not just physical,” explained Gross. “They want to be with their friends. They want to run around.”
The Bouzoubaa brothers were excited about seeing their teammates again.
“Because we finally get to be around other kids, playing, and interact with them.”
Coach Gross also coaches at Olympian High School in Chula Vista. However, he said athletics tied to schools are completely off the table for now.