Youth Sports Coaches Prepare to Play Ball, Safely

Youth camps are permitted in San Diego County Friday, allowing some kids to start practicing sports again

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They’re bouncing off the walls. They’re wrestling with siblings. They’re ready to run outside.

The time to open the door and send your children to sports practice is nigh. San Diego County public health officials on Monday announced youth camps including sports camps could resume as soon as Friday, with some exceptions, bringing a resounding sigh of relief to players and coaches alike.

“We’ve never experienced something much like this before,” said Ramon Vasquez. “Kids need to be out there. They miss their routine. They miss being with their coach. They miss school. They miss their friends.”

It’s been on coaches like Vasquez, too.

“I do truly, truly miss coaching,” he said.

Vasquez has coached for two decades. He now guides 120 kids in the Chula Vista-based San Diego Jaguars basketball program.

“I miss every single smiling face in that program.”

“It’s going to be nice once we do get back,” added David Banks.

He runs the Nott’s Forrest Football Club in Kearny Mesa. They’ve continued coaching online, but it’s hard to replace in-person coaching.

“You want to be able to pull people aside and say, ‘Hey, try this. Do this,'” said Banks.

That time may come Friday. A San Diego County spokesman said summer and sports camps will be allowed. However, actual games and scrimmages will not be permitted.

San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said kids can practice a sport, but not in a competitive manner becuase that is the determination the state has made between a "youth camp" and a "youth sport." Guidance for the latter has not yet been released by the state.

However, some coaches and teams are taking advantage of the language with youth camps.

“We want to make sure we’re making those baby steps,” said Banks.

Both Banks and Vasquez said they will begin slowly and follow strict safety and sanitation rules. A set of guidelines for youth camps are posted on San Diego County's Safe Reopening Plan website.

“A lot of skills. No scrimmages to start,” said Vasquez. “12 kids at a practice, per court, with one coach. Six-feet apart.”

“Those 12 have to remain together,” added Banks. “Social distancing. No handshaking.”

“We’ve got to follow the right guidelines and protocols, so we don’t jeopardize our return,” he continued. “I just hope we don’t have a resurgence of that incline again.”

That incline in the coronavirus curve could set everything back and force health officials to rescind some modifications to the public health order that have allowed for reopenings, sending children bouncing off the walls again.

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