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High Schools to Stage Basketball, Volleyball Outdoors

Paul Steinbach

Most schools in the San Jose (Calif.) Unified School District have either found a way to provide COVID-19 testing to offer indoor sports, which demands negative results within 48 hours of competition, or opted out entire sports seasons. The only other alternative is to stage games outdoors — and six district high schools are doing just that.

There was no other choice, Pioneer High School athletic director and boys’ basketball coach Joe Berticevich told The Mercury Newsof San Jose. The district is not providing the mandatory testing for indoor play, and Santa Clara County is stuck in the state's "orange" reopening tier, so Berticevich helped organize a three-week round-robin season in boys’ and girls’ basketball and boys’ volleyball, with the first contests starting Tuesday, May 4, at Saratoga High’s outdoor sport courts.

“Hopefully it’s not too windy,” Berticevich said. “Instead of just hoping, we took it in our hands. … With boys’ volleyball and boys’ and girls’ basketball being able to play, knowing that for us in San Jose Unified, that was looking bleak … Portable scoreboard, referees — it’s going to be as close as possible to being inside.”

According to The Mercury News, six days a week from May 4 to May 22, the two outdoor courts at Saratoga will be booked by the San Jose high schools. Berticevich said he has a friendly relationship with Saratoga athletic director Tim Lugo, who previously spent time at Pioneer, and that the agreement came together quickly. Berticevich said Saratoga waived the majority of the fees associated with using the courts and that all five other SJUSD athletic directors were on board.

The San Jose Unified schools are believed to be the first in the Bay Area to formalize an outdoor season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

All six SJUSD high schools will play a double-round robin schedule with 10 games apiece in boys’ basketball and volleyball; however, only Leland, Willow Glenn and Lincoln high schools plan to offer girls’ basketball; those schools will play a six-game triple-round robin schedule.

Only essential personnel will be allowed to attend, Berticevich said, but the schools plan to stream the games and post video on Hudl.

The plans only came together in the last week — and within 48 hours — when it became clear to Berticevich and others that Santa Clara County wouldn’t advance into the yellow reopening tier, which would have allowed the schools to play indoors without arranging the testing regimen.

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