When the Kern High School District approved a plan to allow fall sports to commence team conditioning drills on Oct. 26, some were more excited than others.
While last Monday's decision was certainly good news for California high school sports as a whole, not everyone who plays a traditional fall sport will return to action with their peers.
Early in the process of planning out its return from coronavirus, the CIF announced that girls golf and tennis would be delayed even further. Normally competing in fall, golf and tennis will now be conducted concurrently with the boys seasons in the spring.
"It's disappointing because we have a lot of returners on our girls golf team, so we were excited to get going," said Jeff Reller, who led the Frontier girls to a second-place finish as last season's Central Section Championships.
That's just one problem facing Reller, who also coaches the Titans' boys team. With both teams practicing at the same time and forced to share a course, Reller admits it's going to be a challenge finding way to get everyone adequate time on the links.
"We're going to have to devise ways to work around each other," he said. "That’s hard on the golf course, that’s hard on us designing practices for two different teams. That was not very fun to hear but there’s not a lot we can do about it at this point. It’s just a lot of stress.”
Things will be equally stressful on the tennis court. Most county schools have anywhere from six to eight courts at their disposal, and few are equipped with lights that would accommodate practices that run into the evening.
With less time to build fundamental skills, Liberty girls tennis coach Chris Campoy says younger, raw players aren't going to get the attention they need to improve their games.
"As far as trying to develop people, it's not going to happen," said Campoy, who estimates the Patriots will have over 100 combined players for the boys and girls teams. "It doesn't give the chance to young players (that need time to develop)."
Another newly implemented state rule is also going to prove challenging for several coaches. To work around some of the issues created by COVID-19, the CIF will allow athletes to compete in two sports at the same time.
Campoy expects to be hit particularly hard by this, as he believes roughly half his current roster consists of girls who will either split time between sports or quit tennis to focus on another sport.
"You work as a team, you try to have people get to know each other, bond," he said. "That's going to be tough because all of a sudden, the person you're playing next to one day is gone doing another sport."
Despite the serious challenges ahead, both Reller and Campoy say they have a mostly positive outlook towards the season ahead. After brutal months of inactivity, any return to play, even a highly difficult one, beats the alternative.
"In the climate we're in right now, I'm just glad we're planning on having a season," Reller said. "Adversity is part of life and you learn to roll with it and make the best of it and do what you can."
"We've got to try to make it work for the kids and I know I'll do whatever I can," Campoy added. "If they can play, that's all I'm working for."