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California’s pandemic shutdowns cause local high school athletes to be overlooked for sports scholarships

OXNARD, Calif. -- California is among the few states that shutdown all high school sporting events across the county. Many California high school athletes are now being overlooked when it comes to sport scholarships.

“In a community like ours a lot of times that is their way to get to college,” said Mike Moon, who is the Pacifica high school head football.

Moon's main goal is to get his players into college, but getting athletic scholarships is a challenge during the pandemic. Since the lockdown last March, all high school games were canceled in California. That means no proof of performance for aspiring athletes.

“There was 46-47 other states that played and have film,” said Moon. “Obviously the colleges have gone to see those kids and early on the thought was that they were going to make room for the California kids, but college coaches have to do their job and they have to fill their recruiting class. This year they filled their recruiting class with kids outside of California.”

It’s an issue up and down the coast.

“The NCAA would not let recruits come in person to see kids or attend camps,” said Tom Crawford, who is the head football coach at Bishop Diego high school in Santa Barbara.

“We tried to do things like last month we held a combine down at Santa Barbara City College for our kids so they could at least get some highlights,” said Crawford. “I think it has been a disadvantage for all of the California student athletes.”

Crawford says six players were able to sign to smaller schools.

“Some of the kids have lost opportunities that they would of had otherwise gotten,” said Crawford. “I guess that is one of the reasons that some kids went out of state to play.”

Both programs would expect more scholarships in a normal season.

“Everyone in the football world in all 50 states knows that the California kids have been overlooked,” said Moon. “There has been a couple of colleges, not to name any names, that normally recruit a lot of California kids and you check their recruiting class for the class of 2021 and there is zero California kids on their recruiting class.”

The pandemic could have a longer lasting impact as the NCAA extended current college athlete eligibility by a year.

“In California not only did we not have film and not play, but now these colleges that normally hand out 20-30 scholarships signed a lot less this year.” said Moon. “They just did not have as many scholarships because seniors are opting in for another year.”

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Youth sports can resume when a California County hits a case rate of 14 per 100,000 which could happen soon in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

“If all goes as planned our first scrimmage can be Saturday, March 13th and our first game can be March 19th,” said Moon.

California / College Sports / High School Sports / Ventura County
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Senerey de los Santos

Senerey de los Santos is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 3-12 covering primarily Ventura County. To learn more about Senerey, click here.

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