As we have learned to wear masks and practice social distancing outside, club sports teams have gradually been able to resume practicing in the summer and into the fall. Unlike high school sports, club sports have more flexibility between teams, as a lot of the rules are set at the club and county levels instead of the school district. Therefore, practices and game schedules look very different across different club sports.
Most teams practice two to four times per week, with masks and social distancing included depending on what situation the team is in. Tiziano Bolaños, a junior who plays soccer for Star Academy FC, said, “we have to wear our masks or we can’t play, but our practices are contact practices.” Emma Spindt, a senior who plays volleyball for Rage Westside Volleyball Club, also commented, “we all wear masks but we are in a gym. Other than the masks, we do not really socially distance from each other but we mostly stay with our team of 10-12 people.” For Bolaños and Spindt, their teams wear masks because they are closer to each other at practice.
Other teams like NorCal Baseball, where senior Tommy Eisenstat plays, choose not to wear masks at practice and instead have non-contact socially distant practices. “We can take our masks off once we’re on the field, but we try to keep our distance. It’s easier because there is not much contact in baseball, so nothing is different in the way we play from covid,” Eisenstat said. In general, clubs seem to be making a decision between wearing masks and not socially distancing, or socially distancing and not wearing masks for practice.
For many players, finding the motivation to practice can be extremely hard if there are no games to look forward to. Most teams did not have any games planned because of California’s continued non-contact rules, however, clubs are starting to put tournaments onto their schedule with some hope of turning it into a mini-season. Rage Westside currently has four scheduled tournaments in January through April. Norcal Baseball has already played a couple of scrimmages against local teams and even went to two official tournaments in Arizona. The trend among club sports teams seems to be scheduling games and tournaments out of state where there are less contact regulations in place than California.
Even though they are not full seasons, clubs feel pressure to schedule games because parents are paying for the season. “I definitely feel the clubs wanted to get on the field and play in some real tournaments because it has been so long since we have all played in game situations,” Eisenstat added.
Like all other aspects, clubs have different methods approaching payment for the fall season. Most clubs, like Rage Westside, have participants pay in installments throughout the season. The logic behind this method is that participants will not lose as much money if games get cancelled because of covid. Other clubs are offering financial aid to those who are unable to pay for a season that may not happen, Star Academy being one of them.