Describing it as “a wild ride,” South Pasadena High Athletic Director Anthony Chan said he likes the idea that teams are back in action, live on fields and courts, training for the first of two upcoming seasons.
Since Monday squads have returned to campus for Season 1 training on campus in football, cross country, volleyball, and water polo with strict protocols in place due to the coronavirus. Athletes participating in baseball, softball, basketball, golf, soccer, badminton, swimming, tennis, wresting and track & field are scheduled to return for Season 2 training starting in December. Typically, during a normal school year there would be three seasons – fall, winter and spring.
“It’s great seeing the kids out there again, and they just look happy to see structure in their training and to see each other while conditioning socially distanced,” said Chan. “There is a lot of planning and work involved in having students back on campus for training.”
Major efforts, stressed the athletic director, are being made to keep students safe as they prepare for their respective seasons. Among the efforts in place, school district officials say students must complete the SPHS web-based health-screening daily and provide proof of clearance before attending scheduled practices.
Athletes have returned to campus for practices, recognizing many changes to the landscape since more than $13.5 million have been put into improvements, including new outdoor basketball courts adjacent to the gymnasium, the addition of a training room, film room, tennis courts, installation of a new floor in the gym and renovation of the locker rooms.
Training has been restricted to outdoors only, masks must be worn at all times, with athletes separated into pods of 12.
“At this time, we’re still working out the kinks, but the student-athletes, families, coaches, and staff have all been willing to make it work,” stressed Chan. “We are continuing to become a well-oiled machine in terms of having our Season 1 athletes on campus. A number of variables such as county health guidelines and some delays to the renovations that create a variety of issues in having us safely have kids back on campus.”
A good portion of Chan’s day is spent sending and responding to emails, “trying to make sure we are helping families clear their students to come on campus,” he noted. “We’re also working with coaches in trying to get those Season 2 sports ready to go. There are a variety of meetings to discuss updates on our safety protocols, small adjustments to our custodial and maintenance staff in keeping our facilities clean and secure, and I also still teach a class and tutor.”
Questions coming from student-athletes and parents range from start times for practices to completing necessary clearance forms, especially with COVID-19 hanging in the balance, to participate in sports. It has taken a toll on Chan, but he’s hardly complaining. He’s simply glad to see athletes back in action. It wasn’t long ago when he’d look out his office window and see nothing other than occasional passing cars and hard hat wearing construction workers plying their trade in upgrading the athletic facilities, describing the area as “a ghost town.”
With all the activity around him in recent days, Chan likes what he sees. “The past couple weeks have definitely been very exhausting between helping clear roughly 200 students in athletics and are still working on another 200,” he said. “The amount of planning and work that have come from the district, site administration, coaches, and athletic trainers is incredible. We have had a very smooth transition into having kids on campus and it comes from the work and planning that everyone has put in. What makes my day is when you see kids laughing and having a good time while on campus. It’s definitely worth the amount of effort that we have put in to making this work, and we hope to continue to have this as long as possible and everyone is helping to follow protocols.”
When you turn 114 years old, like South Pasadena High is these day, and showing signs of age, well, it’s time for a facelift. That’s exactly what South Pasadena Unified School District officials decided to do with the athletic department at the school, using a portion of a $98 million bond measure, to give it a new, refreshed look.
“There are still some minor things that are getting completed on the renovations,” explained Chan. “When you drive by, you can see that there are not a lot of people needing to work on the renovation project at this point compared to a few months ago. A few items are delayed and there are light touch-ups in the gym, the weight room, and the exteriors but it’s pretty much done. We want to make sure that everything is complete and up to the standards that we want them before we remove the fencing and have a hand-over. Overall, I think everyone will be pleased with the upgrades and I can’t wait for our student-athletes to put them to use. It should be completed pretty soon, and you can see most of the things are when you drive by. Things that are really exciting are the new athletic training facility, the film room, the new visitor bleachers, renovated locker rooms, and the renovated weight room. We will have something to visually show our facilities to the community while we are still in a socially-distant setting.”