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Football: St. Joseph first area school to have athletes return to campus for workouts
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Football: St. Joseph first area school to have athletes return to campus for workouts

For the first time since schools closed statewide in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Joseph football players returned to campus on June 22 for initial drills.

“We had 68 players out,” said St. Joseph coach Pepe Villasenor. “The players in our varsity and junior varsity programs participated.

“Some players are on vacation. When they come back we’ll have 80 players out.”

St. Joseph athletic director Tom Mott said in an email earlier in the week that the archdiocese in Los Angeles gave the school clearance to formulate a plan to bring athletes back for drills.

“The coaches did an excellent job of regulating things, wearing masks making sure drills were distanced,” said Villasenor.

Monday represented stage one of the drills. During this stage, Villasenor said, no use of locker room or weight room facilities is allowed.

Villasenor said when drills move into stage two, players can use the weight room, though with protocols “I hope stage one only lasts two weeks, but I have no idea how long it will last,” said Villasenor.

“It might last a month. It depends on the health guidelines. Everything is up in the air.”

When the players entered the facility, “They all wore masks, they were all screened to see if they had a temperature,” said Villasenor.

“When they all cleared that, they filled out a questionnaire - does anyone at home have COVID, have you been exposed to anyone who has an illness - the same kind of questionnaire you’d fill out in a dentist’s office, a medical facility.”

Once the players were cleared, “They took off their masks and went to their pods,” said Villasenor.

“There were seven spaced pods, with no more than 10 kids to a pod,” said Villasenor.

“There were five pods on the football field, two on the baseball field. We wanted to be very safe with the spacing of the pods. Once we have everybody out, we’ll have eight or nine pods.”

Villasenor said that every player brought his own bag to the drills.

“Every player had to keep everything he had, including is water bottle, in that bag,” said Villasenor.

“That avoided the confusion of, ‘Is this my water bottle or someone else’s?.’ It assured that no one but that one player touches his own water bottle.”

Villasenor said drills consisted of “all-in drills.”

The coach said, “Its not just stretching. It’s working on all muscles, emphasizing explosion,” of power from the exercised muscles.

“From the start to when the players leave the area it’s not a minute more than 90 minutes, to be safe,” said Villasenor.

“We even let them leave a few minutes early to be on the safe side,” said Villasenor.

“There is to be no congregating around the field, no congregating around the parking lot. Everyone is to put his mask back on and leave the area.”

Once players can use the weight room, “There will be rotations of four pods of kids in the weight room and four pods of kids working outside,” said Villasenor.

“In between rotations, the weight room stations will be sanitized.“ Mott said he saw the beginning of the drills.

“I think it went well,” he said. “I think it was a good learning experience for everybody.”

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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