Cabrillo Compton Cross Country Jordan Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan St. Anthony Wilson

High School Sports Close to Return in Long Beach

After a nearly 11-month shutdown, high school sports could be just a few weeks away from a return in Long Beach.

The Moore League has put together a schedule of cross country dual meets currently slated to begin on Feb. 17 which would represent the first official contests in the city since Friday, March 13, the last day that the Long Beach Unified School District campuses were open.

There are still some hurdles to clear, however.

“We have put a schedule together with dual meets, but we’re still waiting for final approval from the Health Department as well as the executive staff at the district level,” said Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer.

High school cross country meets are permitted to be contested in the purple tier per the guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health, as long as counties aren’t in a stay-at-home order. With Los Angeles County and other Southern California jurisdictions released from their stay-at-home order as of last weekend, a few dual meets have already begun.

If the city health department and school district okay the Moore League’s return to play, Millikan would host Wilson for a dual meet at 2:45 p.m. on Feb. 17 while Cabrillo would host Long Beach Poly. Ulmer said the league has applied for permits with the city’s Parks & Recreation Department to use El Dorado Park for the meets. If those permits are granted, the two dual meets would happen on successive days, 2/17 and 2/18.

Lakewood, Jordan, and Compton will run as one team due to low numbers, which means the league will have five teams competing in this modified league schedule. The plan is for a five-week league schedule with competition on Wednesdays from 2/17 through 3/17. The league would then host lower-level league championships on March 25 and varsity championships on March 26. Plans for those events are still up in the air since the current CDPH order does not allow for more than two schools to participate in one competition.

If the city health department follows Los Angeles County and allows the Long Beach schools to compete, but they can’t obtain permits for the parks prior to 2/17, the plan is to run the dual meets on high school campuses.

“We have a schedule put together and our backup plan if we can’t use the parks,” said Ulmer. “So we’re just kind of in a holding pattern waiting for the green light.”

As for football and girls’ volleyball and other Fall sports that were put into red, orange, or yellow tiers by the CDPH guidelines, there may be some hope for league play as well. 

The main hurdle for the restart of sports has been the colored tier system that sports, schools, and businesses are placed under by the state. Education and athletics advocates have argued that the tier system is appropriate for businesses like restaurants and gyms, but not for schools and other youth services. The Let Us Play movement posted on Facebook over the weekend that they’d had a very positive meeting with California governor Gavin Newsom and that there could be an announcement this week that sports would either be moved up in the tier system, or that the tier system would be removed altogether.

While the CIF-SS and CIF State canceled their championships for the Fall sports, a modification in the CDPH guidelines could still allow for football, volleyball, and other Fall sports to return in the 2020-21 school year, for league play and championships only.

“If they do modify that tier system we’ll move forward with those sports with the support of the district and the health department,” said Ulmer. “We’re holding out hope for all our athletes and teams.”


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.