Yreka 'Let them Play' rally encourages officials to lift restrictions on high school sports

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald
High school students take part in the Let Them Play Rally on Friday in Yreka.

More than 40 people stood on South Main Street in Yreka with signs in hand Friday afternoon, hoping to encourage leaders to start sports again for student athletes across California.

Butch Bigham, an assistant football and softball coach at Etna High School, is hopeful sports can resume as soon as possible. “These kids have been isolated long enough,” he said. “They need to get out and play for both their mental and physical health. The politics should be over now, and we should get back to living a normal life.”

Consuelo Mendota, the parent of a Yreka High School athlete, is concerned about the length of time kids have been out of sports.

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“I think the mental and physical health of the kids is at stake,” she said. “There are so many kids with depression. The kids are in their rooms and don't want to go out. They just eat and play video games.”  

Mendota said she's concerned about kids becoming depressed and potentially having suicidal thoughts.  

A person takes part in the Let Them Play Rally on Friday in Yreka

The sports situation is still up in the air, although individual sports which aren't high contact are being allowed to resume. This includes cross country, tennis, golf, swimming and ski and snowboard. 

Some of these sports are tentatively set to resume play this week: Yreka High School may compete in a cross country meet Wednesday at West Valley High School in Cottonwood. 

Local athletic directors have said they hope other sports such as baseball, softball and softball can follow suit, although sports like basketball, volleyball and football will be harder to resume and having season in these sports may be "iffy" at best.

“We have already lost most of our Senior year, don't take away sports too," said Yreka High senior athlete Jada Swenson. Fellow YHS senior Hannah Brown said she wants to play so she can have an opportunity to play in college. 

This was the second rally in two weeks encouraging the state and Gov. Gavin Newsom to let all sports begin again in California. The first group of rallies were held on Jan. 17. In Siskiyou County, people rallied at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds and in front of Mount Shasta's City Hall.

Nora Harris, a student at Yreka High said she was glad to take part in the event. 

“I think it good for us to get out and stand up for what we believe in,” she said. “Sports are a big part of my life and I miss it." 

Mae Thackeray, a student athlete from Etna High school said that it is “really cool” people throughout the state are supporting athletes to be able to play sports again.   

“I really hope we can play this year, so I have memories from this year playing with my friends and teammates,” she said. 

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Lisa Mott is one of the rally organizers in Yreka. She has a daughter, Breanne Hands, who is a senior at YHS and plays three sports. 

She said Friday's rally went well and hopes this sends a message that it is time to let students play sports again. She hopes rallies like this “make a difference” and make those in charge realize how vital sports are for children. Mott also hopes there is a trickle down effect so youth sports like Little League can get underway throughout the state.

“It's important to begin sports again," Mott said. "The impact of not having sports for so long has affected so many kids ... It’s very much needed.”