Questions remain after student-athletes return to the field

Sports

SAN DIEGO — It was an exciting day for high school athletes in California, especially at Scripps Ranch where the football team held their first practice out on the field for the first time since 2019.

One of their seniors, Nicholas Gardinera, was one of two student-athletes who helped put together the lawsuit they won recently, getting a temporary restraining order allowing all high school sports to hold practices and games.

Nicholas’ dad Marlon is head football coach at Scripps Ranch and has been a vocal advocate of the Let Them Play CA group. While he’s happy to have the boys back out on the field, he says there’s still one issue remaining.

Right now, football, rugby and water polo have COVID-19 testing covered by the state. Marlon Gardinera said he wants to see Governor Gavin Newsom get every student-athlete for every sport covered. 

“I want to speak directly to the governor when I say we don’t want another equity issue,” Marlon Gardinera said. “We don’t want three sports – primarily boys – to get testing paid for by the state, and leave out all the other sports, as if that’s fair or reasonable to do. If testing is the most important thing, or critical thing in the COVID protocols to make sure we identify anybody with COVID, and we prevent any outbreaks, I think testing should be done for all students.” 

He said he doesn’t know how often his team will be tested for COVID-19 because there have been several standards handed down by the California Department of Public Health. It’s an issue he says they may even have to return to court to get figured out. 

“I think whatever the lowest standard is, just based on access and equality – if the governor thinks we should test once a week, I think we should test once a week,” Marlon Gardinera said. “And the first politician that takes away the games we’ve made, I’m telling you now I’ll run against him.”

He said the kids haven’t been vaccinated for the coronavirus but he has. With several health issues, Marlon Gardinera said he is at a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

He said like everyone else on the team, he will continue to social distance and follow the necessary protocols.

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