Local high schools contemplate ways to salvage end-of-year activities

Marina’s Pharoah Rush jumps over Segerstrom’s Saul Ramirez and finds the end zone on a 20-yard run in a Big 4 League game at Westminster High on Oct. 15, 2019.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

The Marina High athletic department had a banner year.

Rather, the Vikings brought home multiple banners, winning CIF Southern Section titles in football and girls’ water polo.

Who knows what could have happened in the spring? Instead, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the CIF calling off its section, regional and state championship events for the spring sports season.

Spring sports have been put on the shelf, and students have been sent home for distance learning.

The manner of how those championships might have been celebrated on campus has certainly changed.

Still, schools are doing what they can to salvage the year for their students.

Roughly two weeks ago, Marina athletic director Michelle Spencer improvised to get the football team their championship rings, commemorating their 18-9 win over Pasadena Muir in the Division 11 title game. The rings were delivered to her, and she asked Vikings coach Jeff Turley if he wanted to wait or hand them out.

Turley felt that being able to wear the rings would make his players happy, even if they were not handed out with the pomp and circumstance of a ceremony. Spencer said a drive-up station was set up on Monday, March 23.

“We put up a table at Marina,” Spencer said. “[Turley] and a couple of booster moms wore gloves and masks, and then they would have the kids come up one at a time to grab their ring and then leave, and then the next kid would come.”

Spencer added that the championship rings for the Marina girls’ water polo team, which beat La Cañada Flintridge Prep 6-4 in the Division 6 final, have not come in yet. When they do, a similar strategy could be employed for delivery.

Additionally, the distribution of varsity letters and the possibility of spring sports banquets are among the things that Spencer is trying to figure out.

In a regular year, Edison would hold a couple of ceremonies toward the end, including one for its latest Athletic Hall of Fame inductees and its Golden Key Award winners.

Alternatives are being considered for such occasions. Edison athletic director Rich Boyce speculated that a Zoom ceremony could take place.

“I’m still trying to figure out what I can do for the Hall of Fame,” Boyce said. “In another week, I want to try to tackle that and see what we can do. Hopefully, we can at least honor the kids.

“I can get some plaques to them after [the pandemic is] all over, and we can make something happen, but right now, it’s all contingent on what we can and can’t do.”

Efforts are being made to salvage traditional senior activities in some form, graduation among them. One idea being bandied about is a drive-up graduation.

“I am sure most principals or administration of almost every school is probably talking about it,” Boyce said. “It’s been floating around for a while where kids can drive up and get their diploma, and then go drive up to another place and get pictures taken.

“At least they have something, so there’s talk, but the actual making it work is a different story.”

From the perspective of Estancia athletic director Nate Goellrich, it has been a weird year, and not just because of the fallout from the coronavirus.

The year began with a last-minute closure of Jim Scott Stadium on campus, so the Estancia football team played its home games primarily at Orange Coast College.

Goellrich hopes to give his school’s student-athletes an opportunity to take the field together again in a sort of senior-day setting. He said he has discussed the possibility of playing a final game, for every sport and at all levels offered at the school, with another Orange Coast League athletic director.

“We’re going to make sure we follow the rules because it will probably be summertime when restrictions are loosened,” Goellrich said. “We thought it would be cool maybe to do like a three-day event, where we’re playing each other in all the sports.”

The Orange Coast League athletic directors will have a Zoom meeting on Thursday, and Goellrich plans to pitch the idea of having the entire league participate in the proposed end-of-year games.

“To me, it would be a great thing maybe to have all six of our Orange Coast League schools involved, create some type of event for all of the Orange Coast League to honor all our seniors,” Goellrich added. “That would be the most ideal thing.”

As for whether the Southern Section would cooperate with schools hoping to have their student-athletes compete one last time together, CIF Assistant Commissioner Thom Simmons said in an email that such decisions should be made by individual school principals.


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