Pop Warner builds leadership, respect and trust, said President Sarah Wicker. (photo by Ralph LoVuolo)
SR Pop Warner season cancelled
This is an updated version of the story that will appear in the printed version of the July issue of Scripps Ranch News:
The Scripps Ranch Pop Football Warner and Cheer Association board voted Thursday, July 23, to cancel its 2020 football and cheer season. The decision ultimately came down to the health and safety of the athletes, families and community, according to Sarah Wicker, president of Scripps Ranch Pop Warner. It was a tough and sad decision, but necessary, she added.
July usually marks a short time before the start of practice for the Scripps Ranch Pop Football Warner and Cheer Association. But, as of press time for the July issue of Scripps Ranch News, the league was still uncertain whether the traditional Aug. 1 season start would happen at all.
With the California Interscholastic Federation’s decision to push back the fall high school sports season, Scripps Ranch Pop Warner was sitting in an unknown situation. It was waiting to find out from Scripps Ranch High School if it would be allowed to use the school’s field and stadium, as it has in the past.
“Because we use the Scripps Ranch High School football field for our games, that’s what makes (CIF’s decision) really contingent for Scripps Ranch Pop Warner’s ability to facilitate a season,” Wicker said.
Nevertheless, Pop Warner leaders had been working to draft a safety protocol in the instance they were able to proceed. The guidelines were a compilation of Center for Disease Control, San Diego County, State of California and National Pop Warner sanitation guidelines.
If the season proceeded, varying degrees of interaction between athletes would have been determined by the reopening status of the region, Wicker said.
With the latest swath of closures handed down by Governor Gavin Newsom to counties around the state, Wicker said the 2020 season would have begun with the strictest COVID-19 protocols. Under those circumstances, athletes would have been limited to interacting within groups of 10.
“If you’re throwing a football, that would be to that small 10-person group and that football never leaves or exchanges into another group until it is sanitized appropriately,” Wicker said.
Later phases, such as phase 3, would have allowed athletes to interact in groups of 25. But since the state’s virus cases remained high, the league did not make it to the point in which games between groups were possible. In this case, the league is planning a fair refund policy.
On top of limiting group sizes, Wicker said the league would have monitored athletes’ temperatures, offered hand sanitizer, enforced social distancing among all practice attendees and sanitized all equipment thoroughly between uses.
But the question remained: Were Scripps Ranch families comfortable enrolling their kids in youth sports amid an unprecedented pandemic?
“I’ve seen it both ways,” Wicker said. “There are parents that really want to get their kids back into youth sports, that want to get their kids out away from computers, video games and mobile devices and get them the exercise they absolutely need and thrive on. Then, I’m also talking to parents that are unsure and are really putting a more concerted effort into keeping their family safe.”
At the end of the day, Wicker said she hoped the league could have found a way to continue for the sake of her kids and others.
“There are so many different things that they learn through football and through cheer,” she said. “Leadership, respect, the ability to really build trust and lean on your teammates.”