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2020: A year in Siskiyou sports with COVID-19, Part 1

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News

It was quite an eventful (uneventful?) year in sports in Siskiyou County, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing local high schools and the College of the Siskiyous to call off games in March. While there was hope a spring sports season would take place, those hopes were dashed in April when the season was called off altogether.

It’s still up in the air whether sports will get underway again in the spring.

How COVID affected sports in Siskiyou County is by far the biggest sports story of 2020.

Other highlights from the year will run in next week’s paper, induing how American Legion baseball and flag football were able to have seasons despite the pandemic.

Mount Shasta Bears Marcus Delgado, left, and Gaspar Rodriguez are expected to form a formidable running back tandem for the Bears this season.

COVID and high school sports  

When the spring sports season was called off in April, it was tough news for the coaches and players.

The Yreka Lady Miners softball team was 2-0 to start the year after making it to the Northern Section Division 4 title game last season.

Fourth-year head coach John Marquez said  at the time he felt terrible for all his players, including the five seniors who have been with the program all four years.

“When I found out it really took the sails out of me. My heart just sank,” he said. “There was a glimmer of hope we could at least play the league season.”

“For my senior girls, for some of them, they are never going to step onto a softball field and play again,“Marquez added.

Fall sports have been delayed until at least to late January or February at the earliest, depending on if things improve in the state and area, which as of the end of December is quite unclear with cases continuing to increase in the month of December.

In the fall, some schools were able to practice in hopes a season will take place in January or February.

This included the Mount Shasta Bears football team.

In October, the team was able to meet a few times a week following strict social distancing guidelines. Players wore masks and limited the number of players in each cohort.

New head coach Mitch Crossleysaid at the time that hey had installed new plays and his players have embraced practice, even wearing masks. He said it was a challenge for them after not being able to do much of anything for months on end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They are competitors and have been working hard,” said Crossley “They are excited to be back out here again.” 

Jackson Grigsby of the COS baseball team gets ready to catch the ball during a game last season.

COS sports

 Sports were canceled at COS due to the pandemic. Fortunately,  sophomores who play spring sports at community colleges were granted another year of eligibility.

Last week, COS announced that it has decided to compete in all but two sports when – and if – the 2020/21 season happens. COS athletic director Charlie Roche said all but two sports – soccer and cross country – have decided to play this upcoming season.

“We just have to wait and see how this all plays out,” said Roche. “It’s constantly changing ... The students have really worked hard to get ready for a chance to complete so we are doing our best to make it happen safely.”

From August until November, COS athletes were allowed to work out and meet as a team, taking a number of safety measures.

This included moving the weight equipment outside to the tennis courts.

Kody Bauman, a  Mount Shasta High School graduate who became a starter and all-league conference selection last season in basketball  said in September that he has enjoyed working out and training outdoors.

“The set up at the tennis courts is the thing that me and my teammates look forward to most in the week,” he said. “Also, we just got a strength and conditioning coach from a D1 University so we are even more excited to be out there on the tennis court.” 

 Tentatively, the sports season will take place in two sessions, “spring one” and “spring two.”

Spring one includes football, basketball, and volleyball with practices beginning on Jan. 18 and games starting on Feb. 5. Spring one would end on April 17.

Spring 2 sports include softball, baseball, and track and field, with practices getting underway on March 27 and games starting on April 10. Spring two would run through June 23.

COS head men’s basketball coach Kyle Health said he and his team are “definitely excited to try and have a season.” 

Heath said his squad, which consists of several players from Siskiyou County, voted unanimously to opt in and play this season.  

“We’re going to try and make it happen,” Heath said. “I hope for my guys’ sake that we’re able to play some games and come back on campus and be together and work out.”