CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION-TV) -- As Opening Day starts up in the MLB, sports at the youth level are still waiting for the okay to get back on the field in California, including on the Central Coast.
Right now, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties have all shut down sports programs. A move that keeps the counties in close alignment with the state.
Santa Cruz Cruz County health officer, Dr. Gail Newell, says an announcement from the state should be made soon on when youth sports can resume, but that counties should expect it to be bad news.
“The pressure of staying healthy and keeping everyone else healthy is hard for these guys to deal with," says baseball coach and former MLB big leaguer, Sean Halton.
And now the COVID-19 pandemic has left kids on the sidelines for longer than they had hoped.
“I missed baseball," says Andre Medina. "There’s been plenty of months without it.”
When Baseball Youth Academy started back up in Monterey in late June, there were new protocols in place to keep kids safe.
For one, anyone who feels sick is asked not to show up for practice.
Another more glaring change compared to the rest, was the new mask requirement. Something Xavier Medina was quick to point out.
“I noticed it’s way different around here," says Medina. "Harder breathing, less communication.”
Medina says he's happy to be back practicing with his fellow teammates, even if for a short amount of time, because of his love for the game of baseball.
“Returning to normalcy I think is what we’re all chasing but I don’t think we can get back to where we were 2 months ago or 3 months ago in terms of comfort," says Coach Halton.
This includes requiring athletes to use their own equipment and for leagues to limit travel outside of their area.
Meanwhile, high school sporting officials at the CIF and CCS have decided to delay Fall sports into the Spring and Winter sessions.
This, as Monterey High Athletic Director Jeff Dellis says, can create problems scheduling practices among the multiple sports offered at different schools.
“We have a number of sports in the spring that are depending on having the stadium available for workouts," says Dellis. "So that’s going to be challenging.”
Dellis also says he believes the CIF and CCS made the right decision to delay the Fall sports season. He says seeing the MLB, NFL, NHL and MLS all having at least one COVID-19 case despite all of their protective measures is reason enough to keep the students safe by holding off on the season.
Some football camps and baseball clinics had resumed in hopes of possibly continuing workouts for the upcoming high school sports seasons.
Santa Cruz High School recently had to shut down its summer workouts program.
“I would just advise parents we’re all on the same page. I don’t wanna teach from home. I think I speak for all coaches and athletic directors in saying that we want to do this safely," Dellis says.
So while chest bumps, high fives and handshakes are not allowed, coaches are optimistic teammates can still build friendships as they try and play through this pandemic.