Sunny Hills teams unable to participate in playoffs after the cancellation of CIF playoffs in football and fall sports

While+maintaining+social+distancing+and+wearing+masks%2C+the+Lancer+football+team+practices+along+the+baseball+field+Nov.+10%2C+2020.+These+athletes+will+not+have+a+chance+to+defend+their+CIF-SS+Division+8+title+this+year+after+a+Jan.+20+announcement+from+CIF+canceled+the+fall+sports+playoffs.+Kristel+Laceste

Kristel Laceste

While maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, the Lancer football team practices along the baseball field Nov. 10, 2020. These athletes will not have a chance to defend their CIF-SS Division 8 title this year after a Jan. 20 announcement from CIF canceled the fall sports playoffs. Kristel Laceste

Rachel Yun

Senior right-side wing Rebecca Hodge walked into her Golden West club volleyball practice but, before getting into her warmups, her coach, Lauryn Win, gathered the team and announced that the California Interscholastic Federation- Southern Section [CIF-SS] would be canceling their playoffs. 

“Even though I’ve pretty much anticipated it happening, I was still shocked and disappointed because I’ve played club volleyball and worked really hard so I could perform my best at the playoffs,” Hodge said. “I understand that canceling playoffs is probably the safest route but it just sucks because I’ve always looked forward to this.”

The senior’s volleyball team along with the Sunny Hills’  football, girls and boys water polo and girls and boys cross country teams will not have a chance to vie for a championship though, after a Jan. 20 update from CIF-SS removed playoffs for the “fall” sports.  

The original decision comes after all Southern California counties consistently remained in the purple “widespread” tier.  

“CIF is not the bad guy actually, CIF is trying to get us to play,” football head coach Peter Karavedas said. “So we’re frustrated because we have such a good team, but one thing we’ve talked a lot about is, look, this is life, things happen beyond your control and you can’t dwell on things you can’t change.”

I understand that canceling playoffs is probably the safest route but it just sucks because I’ve always looked forward to this.”

— Rebecca Hodge

The CIF-SS released multiple extensions upon the “fall” sports’ end dates to allow for local district-wide league schedules to form and come into play.  

“Hopefully, the additional week now available during the “fall” sports season will be useful to our schools in the effort to have a regular season and, or, league competition in the time ahead,” CIF-SS commissioner of athletics Rob Wigod wrote in a Jan. 20 press release.  

For many athletes, the cancellation of the playoffs did not come as a surprise. 

“I’m just disappointed– it’s unfortunate that our team couldn’t have another chance to prove to other football programs that our success isn’t just a one year thing but winning is part of our culture,” said football linebacker senior Kevin Hu, who first learned about the cancellation from his coach . “Our team was motivated by the fact that there was still someone to beat no matter what our season looked like and we knew that there were other football programs in our league who continued to practice and we had to be ready.”

Athletes are still focusing on their goals for the upcoming seasons despite the cancellation of CIF championships. 

“Although we aren’t practicing at school, the good thing about cross country is that practice is accessible pretty much everywhere,” cross country runner Zachary Gomez said. “Despite not being able to show off my full extent, I’m still planning to keep my speed and endurance for the coming year.”

Disheartened for their seniors, some coaches are planning to hold a special online event for their senior athletes and are planning to work individually with their athletes during the season. 

“I was disappointed for the senior runners, but we are holding a zoom celebration to recognize all team members and seniors will receive unique gifts,” head cross country coach Jacob Holloway said. “Even though our competition goals have changed, the overall goal of developing resilient student-athletes is still very much in play.”

We’re frustrated because we have such a good team, but one thing we’ve talked a lot about is, look, this is life, things happen beyond your control and you can’t dwell on things you can’t change.”

— Peter Karavedas

Even in the midst of an uncertain athletic season, athletic director Paul Jones is remaining optimistic.

“Although I’m disappointed for the students who are missing out on this opportunity, I understand the CIF adjustments and respect them for making a difficult decision,” Jones said. “I’m hopeful that the students will have the opportunity to play because it doesn’t feel like a high school year without sports and being the athletic director, it’s been tough.”

Until then, many SH athletic programs are staying motivated despite the cancellation and practicing after school while still respecting the social distancing protocols. 

“I’m still going to give it my all at each practice even if it’s barely anything, and to me, with a sport sometimes you just have to keep your goals small,” water polo goalie junior Mary Rovira said. “Underpromise but overachieve.”