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OHS Student-Athletes Hopeful For Competition

With the 2020-2021 school year just weeks away, many student-athletes have voiced their concerns and opinions on returning. And with the announcement on Monday, July 13 that the start of the school year will be via distance learning, there’s no way to gauge when Mustang athletes might be able to get back to competition.

A few football players recently offered their thoughts on the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation.

Brandon Jeffery recalled when the school year came to an abrupt end in mid-March.

“When everything got cancelled, it hit me hard and I took it very serious; my family and I wear masks and our health is a top priority,” he said.

Jeffery did say that returning to the practice field a few weeks ago felt “great and interacting with my teammates and coaches was a fun atmosphere and normal. Everyone gave it 100 percent and the coaches were very responsible and cautious with social distance.”

However, all school sports activity was also halted in Stanislaus County as of Monday, July 13 due to an increase in coronavirus cases.

Rocky Richardson shared his thoughts about returning to the classroom and football field.

“It affects everyone differently. My younger sister has diabetes and I do not want to put her at risk. We (as a family) have made sure that she is safe,” Richardson said, adding that his hope originally was to be able to return to the classroom for the new school year without limitations. That now has been put on hold.

Junior varsity football player Denver Stephens, meanwhile, said that he learned a lot the last four months during the pandemic.

“I learned not to take anything for granted and to enjoy and embrace school and all the activities of day-to-day life,” he said.

Varsity quarterback Jackson Holt, like most student-athletes, continued to stay in game-day shape by working out at home during quarantine.

“I was given daily workouts that I was able to do at home. I did footwork and agility drills in the front yard. I spent a lot of time throwing (a football) to my dad in the front yard too,” he explained.

Cheerleader Makena McDonald is looking forward to school and cheer. McDonald said that she feels bad for the 2020 seniors that missed out on their final days at Oakdale High School and hopes that that is not the fate of this year’s senior class. McDonald is a junior this year and is determined to get back to work. With new cheer coaches, she is ready to get started.

“I have worked with the new coaches before and I am looking forward to performing on Friday nights, hopefully in front of a large crowd but know and understand that it is in jeopardy.”

Cross country athlete Hannah-Beth Norman is entering her junior year and is hopeful to have a school year and season.

“I am preparing for the cross country season by running through my neighborhood five times a week,” she said.

It is not just the fall sports that are in jeopardy, the winter student-athletes are also very concerned about their sports as well. Senior Brayden Abell, a multiple time CIF State Wrestling medalist, said that he is taking this process day by day.

“I think it is a high risk to return. Do not get me wrong, if school did not start up and the wrestling season was gone, I’d be sad; very sad. I have worked very hard at school and wrestling but ultimately the health of everyone is my main concern,” Abell said.