California coaches, student-athletes rally to safely reopen youth sports

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – California football coaches, student-athletes, and community leaders make a plea to Governor Gavin Newsom to safely reopen youth sports now.

It is a call that appears to be gaining momentum.

52,000 people have joined a Facebook group dedicated to getting kids back on the playing field. 

One of the major takeaways after listening to speakers at Friday’s press conference, being able to play sports for some young people is more than just recreation, it is a matter of life and death.

“So many of our young people are struggling right now with the fact that they cannot go outside and play. Just on this past Monday evening, I strolled on Instagram and there was a young man holding a gun to his head because he just couldn’t take it anymore,” George Jackson Jr., head football coach for Richmond High School, said. 

That is the sense of desperation Richmond High School head football coach George Jackson Jr. says some student-athletes face by not being able to compete for close to a year due to restrictions placed at the state level due to COVID-19.

Coach Jackson Jr. testimony took place during a press conference held by the California Football Coaches Community and the Let Them Play California organization, which made a plea to Governor Newsom.

“We have a single objective mission and that is to bring youth sports back to California immediately, safely and, through a positive environment,” Brad Hensley, co-founder of Let Them Play California, said. 

“We currently have 3-million kids on the sidelines. They’ve been benched since March 10, 2020. We feel the data and science are pointing to a return to safe-play for our California student-athletes in all sports in all ages now,” Patrick Walsh, with the Golden State Football Coaches Community, said.

Sports, like football, soccer, and volleyball, will not resume until a county reaches the orange tier indicating the spread of COVID-19 has reached a moderate level.

“I definitely didn’t think that last year was going to be my last game or my last race. Kind of knowing that I am not going to get a senior night. All of that is definitely heart-breaking,” student-athlete Hannah Erickson said. 

Last year, 16-year-old Aaron Pryor, a Skyline High School football player, was gunned down near his home in Oakland.

“We had a lot of things going on with him saying that if he was playing sports he wouldn’t have been in the streets. Shortly after that, he was gunned down,” Skyline High School head coach Joe Bates said. 

“Governor Newsom, please I hope you’re listening to what’s happening here,” Coach Walsh said. 

“We need your help to get these young men and women back outside. To be high school students. To be high school athletes,” Richmond High School head coach George Jackson said. 

I reached out to the governor’s office and received this statement from the California department of public health

“Like other California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance, the sports guidance is mandated pursuant to public health directives. All Californians are being asked to follow this guidance to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Read More