Gary West and Claudia Terrones came to a consensus this week: Their student-athletes returning to on-campus activities for the first time since March went seamlessly.
Cabrillo High, where West is the Athletic Director, and Lompoc High, where Terrones is the AD, both welcomed dozens of students to campus for the resumption of athletic activities last Tuesday.
The ADs spent the week busily ensuring all COVID-19 protocols were adhered to. West set up shop at his school's entrance, checking students in and directing them to their respective training pods.
"I will tell you that it has been awesome," West said of his school's first week back. "And, maybe I’m doing things a little bit differently, maybe I’m not, but I check in every kid and every coach once they get on campus. But, just to have the relationships return and be able to talk to some kids has been great."
Terrones had her hands full with similar duties at Lompoc High.
"We put in a lot of time with the district and the county to prepare for this, so that made it easy," Terrones said of the return. "If my student-athletes are happy then I’m happy and doing my job."
Terrones, who noted that the county health office is not requiring athlete temperature checks, said her school welcomed back football players, spirit leaders and water polo players and that both schools are starting by bringing returning varsity athletes back to campus and will look to expand that to bring in underclassmen and new athletes after a period of two weeks.
"We could see the smiles through their masks and it was a relief to get back to something that was somewhat normal," Terrones said.
The LHS football team worked out on the new Huyck Stadium turf for the first time this week. There were five pods of 10 athletes on the football field "with masks the whole time," Terrones added.
They both started boxing when they were 8 years old. One of the first times they appeared in this newspaper, was in July of 2007. Jose was 11 and Carlos, then going by the given spelling of his first name, was 10. They both attended Liberty Elementary. Karlos had just won his age group in the 65-pound weight class at the Desert Showdown in Coachella. Jose took first place in his 11-12-year-old age group in the 65-pound division.
The Braves had three pods of 10 spirit leaders and athletes in water polo also broken up into pods.
Cabrillo's football team, with new coach Andy Guyader, is set to restart on Monday.
West said he did see a gradual increase in his students' moods as the week wore on.
"It’s funny, when they showed up on Tuesday it was like seeing kindergartners going to kindergarten. They were excited, but nervous. Now they're settling in, the coaches have figured things out and they're getting super excited," West said. "It's been great."
West is himself excited to see his new football coach finally get to meet some of his players in person. Guyader was hired in March and has yet to hold an in-person practice.
"Andy has the right approach," West said of Guyader. "He isn’t in any hurry and the reason he’s not in a hurry is that he’s going to do this right. He has it mapped out like you wouldn’t believe. He is here to give kids the right to earn to play the game. He has the right mindset and he delayed a week and made sure he’s doing this right."
Athletes returning are only participating in outdoor conditioning drills that do not resemble full-fledged practices. High school sports have been shut down since March amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. That led to the cancellation of the spring season and postponement of all high school sports until late December and early January.
Another interesting topic is if or when Cabrillo's football team will eventually get to train and practice on the new artificial turf installed at Huyck Stadium, the district field that both the Braves and Conqs use to play their football games.
"Claudia and I have talked about it and we are going to share it," West said. "Now we’re not interested in that right now anyway, with how things are. But, maybe once we start playing football and practicing football I could at least see where Lompoc will go on the field right after school and we'll take 5:30 to 7 under the lights some days. There is not any animosity or fighting over this. We're not doing that. We want it to be equitable."
Terrones said the LHS football players appreciated the new artificial turf and all the renovations made to the historic stadium.
"It's surreal," she said. "I would be walking out there and seeing nobody using this beautiful stadium, but this week we were like kids in a candy store walking through the gates. The kids are very appreciative and it's an amazing field. I had to take a walk to the top of the bleachers and what a view it was. It was nice to see."
Player of the Decade: Get to know the greatest girls basketball players from the last decade
You didn't think we would stop with football, did you? We continue highlighting the greatest athletes in the history of the Central Coast with our Player of the Decade series, but this time we focus on girls basketball!
We have profiled 12 athletes for you to learn more about and the voting will start next week! Share the profiles, and the polls on your social media pages and let's continue the great participation and find out who your choice is for Player of the Decade.
Let's look at her sophomore and junior seasons with the Panthers. As a sophomore in 2017-18, Anielski scored 10.5 points per game and the Panthers went 3-22 overall and 0-14 in the PAC 8 League. There were some games that season where Anielski scored roughly half her team's points.
Basketball was not the only sport for Rylee Sager. Was it her best sport? Perhaps, though she was also a softball, golf and cross country standout at Lompoc High. In fact, Sager earned Los Padres League MVP honors in both basketball and softball and would go on to play softball at Sacramento State.
Syenna Ramirez mastered the art of getting better. Ramirez was a solid offensive contributor during her first two seasons at St. Joseph High. She scored about 8.5 points a game and added some rebounding and play-making with good, reliable defense. Then came Ramirez's junior year.
Though there are several more notable players, there's another, one who joined St. Joseph at the tail-end of its dominant run, that has yet to be discussed in the Player of the Decade conversation. That would be Flowers.
Back in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, Tell helped lead a major turnaround at the school. In Tell's freshman season at PVHS, the Panthers went 2-10 in league. By her junior season, the Panthers were 10-2. By her senior season, the Panthers were 11-1 in league and crowned league champions.
Beebe became a top-10 recruit nationally after that junior season and committed to play for Stanford. But she suffered an ACL injury playing on the AAU circuit in July of 2011. The injury sidelined her for an entire year and she would never suit up for the Knights after that junior season.
King rehabbed for a year and made it back to the Pirate lineup as a senior in 2010-11, scoring 427 points that year and leading Santa Ynez to the Los Padres League title, the Pirates' most recent league championship in girls hoops.
Cooks blossomed into a standout early in her Righetti High career and turned that into a long and accomplished spell at Washington State, where she played four years of basketball with the Cougars.
She won three CIF-SS titles and one state championship. That's four more titles than the total league games she lost during her career. (Madrigal went 48-0 in league in high school).
You see, Estorga's game was so refined, that even though she played only 14 games her senior year, it was clear she was still the area's top offensive threat. After all, Estorga was voted the All-Area MVP, as chosen by the sports staff at the Times, the year before, as a junior in the 2015-16 season.
Though Dunlap had a reputation as an all-time great on defense, she may have been equally as good on offense. In her three seasons at St. Joseph, Dunlap scored over 1,300 points. During her senior season with the Knights, the 5-foot-8 guard averaged 23.7 points, 3.0 assists, 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game as the Knights went 19-9.
Swain was dominant at VCA, using her rare combination of size and skill to power the Lions to Coast Valley League titles and a career-defining CIF Southern Section championship in 2014.
Just look at the résumé: She earned All-Los Padres League honors all four years she played on varsity, being named to the Honorable Mention team as a freshman before landing on the First Team in her final three years, including the LPL Defensive MVP award in 2018 when she was a senior.
Herlihy is the third nominee for the Times' Player of the Decade award. She joins former Cabrillo standout Erin Jenkins, a two-time All-Area MVP, and Righetti graduate Molly Schlemer, who earned All-Big West honors with Cal Poly after starring at Righetti.
Schlemer is the second nominee for the Santa Maria Times' Player of the Decade award for girls basketball, joining the first, Erin Jenkins of Cabrillo High. The list of nominees is compiled by the sports staff at the Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News, which is polling current and former coaches and researching individual and team accolades. Players in graduating classes from 2010-2020 are eligible.
Jenkins was named the Times' All-Area MVP in 2017 and 2018, after her junior and senior years at Cabrillo High. Aly Beebe (2010 and '11) and Meghan Gnekow (2001 and '02) are the only other two players to do that this century. Both Beebe and Gnekow went on to sign with Pac-12 schools, Beebe joining Stanford and Gnekow playing for USC.
That winner is Nick Kimball. The former Nipomo High standout has been voted the Player of the Decade.
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