The case to bring back high school sports across California continued Tuesday as an advocacy group led by two prominent Bay Area football coaches held a meeting with officials from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.
The Golden State HS Football Coaches Community — a group led by Serra’s Patrick Walsh and De La Salle’s Justin Alumbaugh — met with government officials in its push to convince the California Department of Public Health to ease guidelines so youth sports such as football can start for the first time since the pandemic shutdown 11 months ago.
“We had a really good meeting,” Walsh said Tuesday night. “We’re moving in the right direction, but we’d rather not say anything more at this time.”
The meeting, the second since Jan. 24 with the governor’s office, came on the same day that the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) modified guidelines it released last spring, choosing to no longer separate sports by tiers.
Walsh and Alumbaugh saw those changes as another positive step.
Their advocacy group is trying to persuade the CDPH to remove colored tiers from its youth sports guidelines, a major hurdle that has prevented the California Interscholastic Federation and its 10 sections from giving contact high school sports such as football the thumbs up to start.
“I am very encouraged,” Walsh said about the NFHS modifications. “It validates what we have been saying all along, which is youth sports should not be tied to tiers. It clearly points to the fact that youth sports are safe, particularly outdoor sports at this time. That report justified that.
“It’s another really good day of moving things in a positive direction. That NFHS report was very positive for the youth in California.”
Thursday, Walsh’s group is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. with California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and Executive Secretary Jim DeBoo in another step in its effort to bring high school sports back on a large scale.
As of now, only outdoor, non-contact sports such as cross-country, track, swimming, golf and tennis are allowed to be contested in California.
Walsh has not slowed down in his quest to change the guidelines.
Last week alone, the longtime coach and former De La Salle High star running back made appearances on national TV and coordinated his own video news conference that included coaches and athletes from across the state, the president of the parent-driven “Let Them Play CA” advocacy group and San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.
Where does he get the energy?
“The kids, the emotional spirits and love of kids,” Walsh said. “I could do this forever if I had to. I feel awful for the three million kids who have been sitting on the bench since March. I think it’s time for them to get off it. I believe our team — the Golden State Football Coaches Community — and the Let Them Play team, the fuel comes from the love of kids. Most adults can say when it comes to our children, we’ll do anything for them.
“I think that’s what we saw in Santa Clara (County). You can kick out the Niners. You can kick out the Sharks. You can kick out San Jose State. But you can’t kick our kids out. That’s just not going to happen. The fate of the health and safety and the spirit of our kids is at stake here. I truly believe that.”
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Author: Darren Sabedra