BUHS athletic teams ease into practice

Jon Klusmire
Register Correspondent

Like a runner carefully toeing the starting line, Bishop High School athletes are easing into practices and, in some cases, preparing for competition with other schools.
The high school’s coaches and student athletes are back on the playing fields after navigating the specific guidelines and restrictions imposed by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and the general, state-mandated COVID-19 mandates for resuming high school sports.
“Bishop Union High School’s stance is we are trying to provide our student-athletes with as many opportunities as possible while being as safe as we can,” wrote athletic director Stacy Van Nest in an email.
The school also is working with the Inyo County Public Health Department.
“All of my coaches are trying our best to focus on what we can do for our students as we practice the sports we love,” she added.
Van Nest said teams and athletes in all sports can practice or train as long as they are outside, maintain 6-feet of distancing, wear masks and limit equipment sharing. Equipment is also sanitized between uses.
A significant CIF rule is that an athlete’s team is his or her cohort for COVID-19 protocols, and an athlete can only have one “cohort,” so multi-sport athletes can only practice and compete on one team. If a student athlete tests positive for COVID-19 he or she cannot return to practice until cleared by a physician in adherence with state and local protocols.
The CIF has created a familiar “tier system,” which outlines which sports can begin competing, based on the state, color-coded COvID-19 tier system. Inyo County is in the Purple Tier, the most restrictive state COVID-19 tier.
The CIF also has broken down remaining school year into two sports seasons. The first season is underway and runs through April. Van Nest outlined what athletes are doing as they resume their 2020-21 seasons, which, in some cases, were delayed last fall to this spring.
Two sports are cleared for competition while in the current Purple Tier.
Cross-country runners can train and compete. The Bronco team, whose members have been chasing each other through town and on local trails, will be heading to Rosamond on Feb. 17 for its first competition of the year.
Ski and snowboard teams are also able to train and compete, so the winter sports Broncos will be heading to Mammoth Mountain on Feb. 19 for races.
Golf (which Van Nest is currently recruiting for), tennis and track and field also are approved for practice and competition in the Purple Tier. Those teams are scheduled to begin practicing in March.
Other sports are either in the CIF Season 2, which runs from March to June, or can only practice and train until the county moves into a less-restrictive COVID-19 tier.
Softball and baseball will start practice in the next two weeks. But High Desert League competition between teams in the county or in bordering Kern County in those two sports won’t take place until the counties reach the Red Tier (substantial risk). Fortunately, baseball and softball are Season 2 sports, so the tier change could occur before competition starts.
The Bronco football players are training three days a week and both boys and girls soccer teams also have started training. All three are Season 2 sports and can only start competition in the Orange Tier (moderate).
As has become routine in the COVID-19 era, the guidelines from CIF and the schools can be updated or changed as conditions change.