SAN DIEGO – Officials from Let Them Play CA will deliver thousands of letters Thursday to Gov. Gavin Newsom in the group’s latest push for youth sports to return in California.
Organizers say the more than 12,000 letters showcase data on why sports should be allowed amid the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to shedding light on how the past year has played out for student-athletes in the state. They’re also planning to hold a rally Thursday in Sacramento.
One of those athletes, Torrey Pines High School freshman Tanna Schornstein, used to train up to eight hours a week with her soccer team.
Now she spends many nights at a local park — all for the love of the game.
“I’m OK being independent and alone, but it’s definitely not the same as going out and training with your friends and getting better,” Schornstein said. “It’s difficult to find drills that you can do by yourself that aren’t super repetitive.”
California and Hawaii now are the final two states still holding out on rolling out a plan to bring back youth sports. Because of that, many of Schornstein’s weekends are spent playing in out-of-state games and tournaments.
“Most of the time, our very important games have been played out-of-state and it’s super hard economically, travel-wise, and we’re still doing school of course online,” she said.
Brad Hensley, one of the founders of the Let Them Play CA group, plans to hold a press conference Thursday, arguing that it’s not too late for schools to hold a sports season this year.
“As soon as the governor announces the ban on youth sports is lifted, 3 million kids are ready to get off the bench and start playing sports,” Hensley said.
Although the year has been challenging, and particularly so without an outlet like sports to occupy time, both students and parents appear to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“If you listen to the governor’s press conferences over the last two or three days, they are progressively getting more positive,” Hensley said, adding, “He is marching to a drumbeat of ‘We need youth sports back, I want youth sports back, in the next day or two I’m going to give a better answer in terms of when we can return youth sports,’ so being on the inside and I hear that cadence, it keeps me very positive.”