Despite the coronavirus pandemic, high school sports are being played this fall in the San Antonio area including at Southside schools under the guidance of the University Interscholastic League.
The UIL, which provides leadership and guidance to public school debate and athletic teachers, says it is critical for schools to follow risk-mitigation guidelines effective Sept. 1. Schools are also required to follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-29 related to face coverings.
In a Sept. 3 interview, Coach Alex Franco of the Southwest High School Dragons said despite how everything is going, he is excited about this upcoming football year.
“I know physically we missed a ton (of time) with COVID in the past five months because we have only seen them (the athletes) for five weeks,” Franco said. “Physically we are not where we want to be, but mentally we are excited. We have a competitive bunch who love the sport of football.”
The Dragons head coach said the players must have a mask on and bring their own water to practice so they will not drink from the same water hose and fountain.
“It is football because it is competitive, but this is different,” Franco said. “We are not in close contact and as coaches we try to incorporate as many things to keep the kids apart. When they do come together, we make sure they wear a mask.”
Athletic Directors Suzette Arriola of the East Central Hornets and RoseAnn Martinez of Harlandale Independent School District both said safety is a priority when it comes to their athletes and families.
“We have students who have families who have cancer and other illnesses,” Arriola said. “We make sure we are following the protocols because we have kids who are with us and they go home. We want to make sure we are taking care of the kids and their families.”
Martinez, who has been in the AD position for almost two years, said she understands COVID-19 is a part of life.
“I know we do not have a vaccine at this time so it is something we have to live with and have to adapt to,” Martinez said. “At the end of the day, athletics plays such a big part in so many people’s lives, but the precautions and the health and safety are first and foremost like the first thought every day.”
The East Central AD said through the COVID-19 pandemic, the coaching staff has been adaptable.
“I want to give a big shout out to my coaching staff,” Arriola said. “We have had coaches on campus working hard all summer long, creating plans and schedules for our kids with hope we would be coming back. This has not been a vacation in any way for our coaches.”
Despite not having face-to-face practices and meetings with their athletes for five months, Arriola is thankful for the newest ways she and her coaching staff have been able to stay in contact with their athletes.
“We have been able to stay in contact with students through Google Meets and Zoom meetings,” Arriola said. “We probably saw more of our kids this summer and spring while going through this pandemic because of the great communications all of our programs had with our kids. Thank God for technology.”
Martinez said the coaches are excited about getting the kids back on campus.
“We know this has affected students, but it has affected coaches,” Martinez said. “We had to adapt to the situation and lifestyle by spending time at home which is what we are not used to doing. I am looking forward to the season to start with safety being the first thing and making sure our coaches following the protocols.”
“It is a little divide in the road, but it is nothing that no one else is going through,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the schools will be following the guidelines and protocols from the superintendent and Metropolitan Health District.
“At this point I think we have adjusted, and this is a way of life right now and this is what we have become accustomed to,” Martinez said.
Schools may allow spectators up to 50% capacity per venue and provide the proper spacing.
Schools must announce COVID-19 mitigation policies before each game which includes keeping six feet of social distance between people not in the same household and to wear a face covering unless consuming food and drinks.
Upcoming games include:
- Varsity Football 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 East Central vs. Roosevelt at Heroes Stadium
- Varsity Football 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 McCollum vs. (Austin ) Navarro at House Park Austin Tx.
- Varsity Football 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2. Southwest vs Floresville at Eschenburg Field Floresville Tx.
- Varsity Volleyball 7 p.m. Oct. 2 East Central vs Wagner at Wagner High School
- Varsity Football 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 Harlandale vs. Leman at Harlandale Memorial Stadium.
For more information about policies from UIL, visit https://www.uiltexas.org/policy/covid-19 and for what is read before the game, visit the website https://www.uiltexas.org/files/policy/PA-spot-announcements.pdf.
Hornets look to avenge last season loss
The East Central Hornets varsity football team begins their football season against the Roosevelt Rough Riders 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 at Heroes Stadium, 4799 Thousand Oaks, San Antonio Texas. 78233.
The Hornets are seeking a comeback after last year’s 50-35 loss to Roosevelt. Despite finishing the season 5-5 and losing about 38 seniors, the Hornets have key players such as junior starting quarterback Caden Bosanko returning to lead the team.
The Hornets head coach, Joe Hubbard said Bosanko is a strong athlete and has been playing football for a long time.
“We saw him in middle school and knew he had a chance to be a good player,” Hubbard said. “He did a good job as a freshman and we knew he had a chance to be a starter as a sophomore. He went out and won the starting varsity job and started all 10 games.”
Hubbard said the most important thing they ask for their athletes is to be 1 percent better every day outside of playing hard and perfect execution.
“We are looking for the best version of ourselves every single day,” Hubbard said. “If we can get this, then when we get to the game. Everything takes care of itself. This is the mentality our kids have. They understand they are good enough if they will work in practice.”
Hubbard, who is from Hooks, Texas, played on the offensive line and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He also received a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Lamar University.
Despite being a senior-heavy team and losing a lot of starters from last year’s team, Hubbard is confident in the Hornets this season.
“Our sub-varsity levels did a good job for us last year so now some of those kids are going to have to step up and be big ball players for us this year,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said despite losing practice time with COVID-19, there is excitement in the air for the Hornets.
“It is a lot of fun to get the kids back moving around and getting on the football field,” Hubbard said. “We are obviously excited about the upcoming football season.”