Like Michael Jordan once said — I’m back. No, the virus did not wipe me out as sports editor like it has high school sports. I was simply on the production desk for a week, covering for our copy editor.
Since I’ve been gone, what has been happening in the world of high school athletics? Not a whole heck of a lot, to be honest. The biggest news last week was Gov. Gavin Newsom saying he had a plan to return sports to school, that he had even signed off on said plan, but then declined to release it as he announced most of the state was returning to the purple tier and a curfew was about to be instituted.
I get it. The last thing most people want to worry about is youth sports, not when a virus is running rampant — again. But it did leave hanging, literally, tens of thousand athletes, parents, fans — and yes, reporters. To be that close to finally — FINALLY — having some kind of guidance from the state was going to be a welcomed relief, whether it was good or bad news.
Instead, local athletic directors and coaches will simply do what they can do to be ready for Dec. 14, which is the first official day of practice, until told otherwise. Jeff Scheller, San Mateo AD and football coach who has chaired the San Mateo Union High School District’s return-to-play committee, said district coaches are following the plan they devised earlier this year. When San Mateo County was in the orange tier, Scheller said teams in the district started sharing equipment and opened the gyms. Since the county has slid back into red, Scheller said athletic activity has been curtailed and expects even more when the county, inevitably, joins most of the rest of the state and drops into the purple.
“We’re looking to revise [our plan] a little bit,” Scheller said, adding that the plan included a provision that it be re-examined following Thanksgiving week.
“It’ll be restructured a little bit.”
So keep vigilant in your virus-safety protocols — keep washing your hands, wearing your mask when appropriate and maintaining your social distancing. Whatever rules the state hands down regarding high school sports, know that it will involve responses to the virus. The better the numbers, the better the chances of all sports getting to compete.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch the San Jose Earthquakes playoff game Sunday, you missed a cracker of a match. The fact the Quakes were dominated in a penalty-shootout loss does not detract from the fact both San Jose and top-seeded Sporting Kansas City put on one heck of show.
And if it was truly Chris Wondolowski’s final game in a record-setting career — the Quakes’ long time center forward said at the beginning of the season this would be, at the age of 37, his final season of professional soccer — he at least went out with a flourish.
And even his game-tying goal deep in stoppage time was as dramatic as could be, flicking home a cross at the far left post from Cristian Espinoza. The fact he had missed minutes earlier made the strike even more momentous.
“Wondo,” as he is known, came into the playoffs with the MLS all-time scoring record of 166 goals. This despite playing in just seven playoff games and finding the back of the net just once in the postseason.
It looked like it would remain at 1 when his headed attempt late in regulation was parried away by KC goalkeeper Tim Melia — who came up with three straight saves in the shootout. The cross to Wondo set the ball on a silver platter and when he didn’t convert, all I could think about was his botched one-timer against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals.
And when KC took a 3-2 lead two minutes into stoppage time, it seemed Wondo’s final chance was denied.
Until it wasn’t. He never stopped working and as the seconds ticked away, the Quakes had one final gasp — and converted. From the captain.
KC head coach Peter Vermes, and even Wondolowski himself, said during postgame interviews that Wondo does, indeed, want to return.
He has to come back. He can’t have the abomination that was 2020 be his final season. The Earthquakes need to resign Wondo for one more season, at least. He needs to return for a proper sendoff — especially in San Jose and the Bay Area.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117.