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SAN DIEGO – Youth sports made a triumphant return late last month and now fans also get to fill the stands for football games hosted by the San Diego Unified School District.

Fans were masked up and cheering loud Friday, March 19, 2021, for a matchup between the Madison Warhawks and the St. Augustine Saints, which the Saints won, 24-7.

Fans were masked up and cheering loud Friday night for a matchup between the Madison Warhawks and the St. Augustine Saints. The Saints ultimately came away with a decisive 24-7 victory, but plenty of parents were just satisfied to be able to watch the game from the bleachers for the first time in many months.

“It’s good to be back in the stands,” James Madison High School parent Bridget Dolfo said.

Every step forward in loosening pandemic restrictions seems like a small victory, the latest being San Diego Unified allowing a limited number of fans back at games.

“This is so amazing for the kids and the parents,” Tasha Small said. “Being able to be outside and see them play sports and getting active after a long period of time.”

Under the current rules, athletes can invite up to four members of their household to attend and place their names on a list. Once at the game, guests check in and socially distance in the stands. Masks also are required.

“It’s a lot better to be here in person and watch what’s going on because there’s things that the camera misses,” Dolfo said.

Many parents enjoy getting to see the action up close, but the games are live streamed for those who prefer to watch from home. Adding even more pep and excitement to the experience, state guidelines now allow for cheerleaders to perform as well.

“We have been practicing, we have been holding meetings, making sure the girls have all their poms, uniforms, their bows,” said Nicholas Schulz, head coach of the Madison High School cheer team. “We made sure the girls had all the material, the dances.”

Even with short notice and a shorter season, the athletes, parents, and staff were thrilled to be out there again.

“The girls were happy to be able to cheer,” said Clarissa White, assistant cheer coach. “Especially our seniors they’re happy to at least get their five games in before they go off to college.”