Lawsuit filed in San Diego County seeks immediate resumption of high school sports

A football lies on a football field.
A lawsuit has been filed in San Diego County Superior Court seeking to remove state and county restrictions and allow the immediate resumption of high school sports.
(Getty Images)

A lawsuit has been filed in San Diego County Superior Court on behalf of two high school football players seeking an order to require the state and county to remove restrictions on high school sports competitions and allow immediate resumption of activities.

The plaintiffs are Nicholas Gardinera, a senior running back at Scripps Ranch in San Diego and the son of head coach Marlon Gardinera, and senior running back Cameron Woolsey of Mission Hills in San Marcos.

High school sports competitions have been restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic since March, while college and pro sports have resumed. A colored-tier system set up by the governor’s office and the California Department of Public Health only allows some outdoor sports in counties classified in the most-restrictive purple tier, which includes San Diego County.


The lawsuit filed Thursday does not challenge the governor’s authority to issue COVID-19 disaster declarations or executive orders but focuses on the “cancelation and/or indefinite delay of the fall/winner 2020-21 high school sports season.”

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Marlon Gardinera, explaining the legal move, said in an email, “As a parent and coach, exactly how long was I supposed to wait to have our voices heard on our children’s behalf?”

He’s hoping for a hearing next week on the request for a temporary restraining order.

Because all but a few California counties are still in the purple tier, it is highly unlikely that football will be played this school year in most of the state. Schools have been given until the end of April by the CIF to finish their football seasons. A delay in the fall season was announced last July by the CIF because of state health restrictions. An attempt to start this month has been on hold.

Stephen Grebing of Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Justice LLP is the lead attorney on the case.

During a virtual news conference Friday involving coaches, athletes and youth sports supporters, Torrey Pines football coach Ron Gladnick said he’s received no update since speaking by phone last week with Gov. Gavin Newsom and his chief of staff, Jim DeBoo, about youth sports returning safely with appropriate protocols.

“We are disappointed with the lack of urgency from the governor’s office at this point,” he said.


During the news conference, San Diego County Dist. Atty. Summer Stephan made a powerful presentation voicing concerns over the consequences of not having schools open and having youth sports on hold. She said statistics indicating large increases in kids committing crimes, joining gangs and becoming involved in violent activities were keeping her up at night.

“I am seeing the devastation,” said Stephan, who called it a second pandemic that “is happening to our children.”