The 2020-21 high school sports season will be unlike any other that came before it. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the entire sports calendar will be condensed into 197 days from December 12, 2020 until the final day of CIF State competition on June 26, 2021.
The shortened time frame forced local administrators to get creative and work together to put together a reasonable plan for the season ahead. Shortly after the CIF announced the constraints for the 2020-21 season, Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer and the Moore League’s seven athletic directors got together for a socially-distant in-person meeting. Less than two hours later, the group emerged with a unique–and crowded–league schedule for the upcoming athletic year.
“In the Moore League, every school has got athletic directors who truly care about the programs they have at their schools and they’re all willing to work well with one another,” said Ulmer. “It was really a collective effort. I work with some really great people and in an hour and 45 minutes we pretty much hashed it all out.”
Ulmer said the fall season was easier to navigate–with the main change being the inclusion of boys’ and girls’ volleyball doubleheaders–but the spring schedule proved to be more of a challenge. Because the spring schedule will include 16 sports in the modified format (compared to seven sports in the fall), there will be a constant struggle for gym and field space across the city.
The majority of the spring schedule is set to get underway the week of April 13, with softball, baseball, boys’ and girls’ golf, girls’ and boys’ lacrosse, and girls’ and boys’ swimming all opening league play that week. In the 39-day stretch between April 13 and the Moore League swimming finals on May 21, there will be a total of 307 league events played across 15 sports. That averages out to over 10 league events per weekday during that grueling stretch.
“Every weekday we have some sort of competition going on,” Ulmer stated. “It’s wild, but we’re making it work. Everyone understands this is a crazy time.”
That many games would by itself create some major facilities concerns, but adding in the need for practice space makes it even more difficult for schools. At Wilson High, athletic director Jeff Evans has been in communication with his coaches regarding that issue, and they all realize changes will need to be made in order to accommodate everyone’s needs.
“Typically, many of our teams never practice in the mornings, but in order for everyone to be able to practice we’re going to need to have teams in the gym at 6:30-7 in the morning,” Evans explained. “We’ve got good groups of coaches who are understanding and want to work together. So we’ll work through things as they come up.”
Adding to the concern is the construction on Lakewood’s football field and track scheduled to begin in January. The field also serves as the Lancers’ home soccer field, which is a sport that will present significant challenges across the league. Soccer teams would ordinarily be able to play or practice on their schools’ baseball or softball outfields, but that won’t be as easy with all those sports simultaneously in-season.
Ulmer mentioned the possibility of using Bancroft Middle School and McBride High School’s grass fields for league soccer matches, but those facilities don’t have lights. That means it will be difficult to stack multiple games (for frosh-soph, JV and varsity) at those sites. Evans said he hopes to use Marina Vista Park as a practice site for Wilson’s soccer and lacrosse programs.
Needless to say, the upcoming high school sports schedule will be a bit of a whirlwind for administrators, and fans can expect to see some unprecedented arrangements in the months ahead, if they’re even allowed to attend the games.
“I think (athletic directors) are anticipating the onslaught,” Ulmer admitted. “And we still don’t know whether we’re allowed to have fans or not. Here we are scheduling all these games, but if we don’t have fans, how do we pay for all this? So there’s a lot of questions out there still, and we won’t have the answers for a while.”
Below are PDFs of the Moore League schedules for each sport: