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TimesOC: Youth sports are returning to Orange County

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, Feb. 26. I’m Ben Brazil, a reporter on rotation with my colleagues, editors John Canalis and Carol Cormaci, to bring you the latest roundup of Orange County happenings.

There’s good news for Orange County sports fans this week as the county will now be able to hold outdoor sports after its COVID-19 numbers cleared the threshold set by the California Department of Public Health last week.

The state requires counties to have a COVID-19 case rate at or below 14 per 100,000 people. Orange County’s rate has fallen to 11.9.

Daily Pilot reporter Andrew Turner wrote that high school football and water polo are the most immediate beneficiaries of the news. It will still be up to schools, school districts and counties to determine what sports can return.

Students will need to undergo regular COVID-19 testing in order to play football or water polo.

Marina football coach Jeff Turley told Turner that his players were excited at practice, which was the first for the Vikings in helmets.

“Usually, kids are dragging and dreading the whole thing, and there was none of that,” Turley said. “There was excitement. They were just full of energy. There wasn’t one kid complaining.

“One of the kids sits there and goes, ‘We’re done? We can’t keep going?’ You don’t usually hear that at the end of our ‘Fourth Quarter’ conditioning circuit. They’re all excited.”

Newport Harbor junior attacker Morgan Netherton, a USC commit, told Turner that her happiness was “beyond words.”

“I was immediately so happy,” Netherton said. “The fact that I get to play, hopefully in my own pool, next week or in two weeks is just amazing. I haven’t done that in over a year.”

A Corona del Mar football player runs for a touchdown in 2019.
A Corona del Mar football player takes advantage of a block from a teammate to run for a touchdown in 2019.
(File Photo)

NEWS

— Orange County supervisors candidates sent their well wishes to fellow candidate John Moorlach, who announced that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

— Laguna Beach will see heavier traffic than usual starting in April, when Caltrans begins work on replacing a portion of the Laguna Canyon Channel beneath South Coast Highway south of its intersection at Broadway.

— Newport Beach is considering improvements to the Balboa boardwalk. Residents have raised concerns for years about unsafe conditions on the boardwalk due to speeding and the presence of electric bikes and other motor vehicles.

— A few months after Fullerton’s safe parking program ended, dozens of RVs line Valencia Drive and Walnut Avenue.

— A Mexican cultural center in Santa Ana is butting heads with the city over a homeless encampment in its parking lots. Established by a group of migrant women more than two decades ago, El Centro Cultural de México at 837 N. Ross St. is a linchpin for the local Latino community.

— Two Sage Hill students have been raising money and donating masks since the beginning of the pandemic. The “Mask-a-Teers” raised more than $6,000 and donated more than 13,000 masks to local hospitals, senior centers, hospices and schools and then formed the Give Back group.

— Laguna Beach reporter, the “one-of-a-kind” Barbara Diamond passed away on Feb. 10 but leaves behind a storied legacy of local journalism. Diamond worked for the Coastline Pilot and Laguna News-Post and was a trailblazer for women journalists.

— Costa Mesa historian Art Goddard died on Feb. 13. Goddard helped digitize city records and fundraised for the city’s new library.

— A Santa Ana student is the subject of a Column One story this week.

— A San Clemente city councilwoman caused some controversy last week when she refused to wear a mask during a meeting. Councilwoman Laura Ferguson was the only council member not wearing a mask during San Clemente’s Feb. 16 meeting, which was the first time the council had met in person for months.

— The Disneyland vaccination site was closed Thursday due to heavy Santa Ana winds.

SPORTS

— The Marina High School girls’ cross-country team took out Huntington Beach this week to remain undefeated.

— New Zealand’s Nick Egnot-Johnson and Jordan Stevenson will compete this summer in the
54th Governor’s Cup International Youth Match Racing Championship. Egnot-Johnson is ranked No. 3 in the world by World Sailing for open match racing skippers, and Stevenson is ranked No. 7 in the world.

— Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton had rough seasons for the Angels last year. Will this year fare different?

— New Angels outfielder Dexter Fowler will mentor and play a key role in the development of top prospect Jo Adell.

OPINION

— Does bimonthly mean twice a month or every two months? Grammar columnist June Casagrande has an answer.

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