Panthers News · San Mateo County high school athletes just want to have fun

Through all the issues and concerns regarding COVID-19 and even with the limited availability to actually engage in athletic activity, there has emerged a silver lining.

Kids want to be out on the field.

That is the general sentiment expressed by several athletic directors in the Peninsula Athletic League, most who said the kids are literally excited to be out on the field — even if it is just for conditioning sessions.

“We’re out there for an hour. We work them for an hour and they’re leaving, saying,’ Thanks coach! Great workout!’ The kids are thanking us,” said John Philipopoulos, Burlingame athletic director and head varsity football coach.

“That feels good.”

California high schools are currently in a second session of what many refer to as “summer conditioning.” Schools had those sessions during the traditional summer period, but when the California Interscholastic Federation decided to push the start of the 2020-21 season to January, schools were given a second period of conditioning beginning last month as teams begin to ramp up for an official December start date to practice.

It is during this second condition session that coaches and athletic directors have seen an uptick not only in the kids participating, but an increase of kids who want to get out and run around. James Madison, Hillsdale AD and varsity baseball manager, believes that many parents and athletes, especially those in their freshman year, are afraid they may miss out on something.

“You don’t want to fall through the cracks,” Madison said. “I think the time and uncertainty are adding a level of urgency to all athletes and parents. … Parents want their kids to be involved so I don’t think they want their athlete to miss out.”

Many schools are experiencing such a surge of interest that administrators are having trouble accommodating everyone. The safety protocols say athletes must work in cohorts of up to 14 kids per coach and sometime there are not enough coaches to go around.

“I’m thrilled to have this many kids want to join. … (But) we have more who want to join our conditioning pods than we can accommodate,” said Melissa Schmidt, AD and girls’ soccer coach at Sequoia. “We’re getting creative with multiple sessions.”