Outdoor youth sports kicks off in several Central California counties

The new guidance allows for some outdoor sports to resume across the state based on the county tier-system.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Student-athletes are kicking off practice as many outdoor sports are able to resume across several Central Valley counties.

In February, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced high contact sports can return when the county reached a case rate of 14 per 100,000.

Fresno, Madera, Tulare, and Mariposa counties all met the standard on Tuesday.

Fresno Unified started allowing sports last week.

Hoover High football players wore masks as they ran through drills on Tuesday, finally able to practice as a team since sports were sidelined early last year.

"I think everyone is trying to find their balance, but we're doing it with excitement," says Hoover head coach Russ Pickett.

Coach Pickett says they are sanitizing shared equipment, wearing masks, and social distancing when needed.

Multi-sport athletes were also forced to choose a single sport to play.

"That's been a tough situation - it's our job to support them. We lost some football players but we're also cheering them on," Pickett says.

Along with masks, state guidelines require informed consent to parents letting them know of the transmission risks, travel restrictions when it comes to competitions, and that fans will be limited.

"You're not going to have after-game handshakes, stretching will be diferrent," says San Joaquin Memorial's head coach Anthony Gosten.

Madera Unified's director of athletics says they plan to use seat guards to help observers social distance and try to get other sports to practice and compete outside.

Practice may be happening earlier in the year than usual, but the excitement can be seen on the field as many teams are getting ready to will play their first game in March.

The state has not made it clear how long the county must stay at a case rate of lower than 14 per 100 thousand to resume all contact sports.

As of March 2, here's how those conditions look for counties in Central California (Click here to view on California's COVID-19 website):

  • Fresno County: 14.0 new cases per 100,000


  • Madera County: 10.8 new cases per 100,000

  • Mariposa County: 2.4 new cases per 100,000

  • Merced County: 16.5 new cases per 100,000

  • Kings County: 16.0 new cases per 100,000

  • Tulare County: 11.0 new cases per 100,000



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