After playing basketball overseas for a season, Golden Valley grad Taylor Statham was excited to come back home to the Santa Clarita Valley last week to sunny weather and a familiar environment.
What he saw when he returned was anything but. However, Statham, who owns Statham Academy, as well as several other local coaches, have found ways to persevere through the new reality that COVID-19 has created and maintain a sense of normalcy for themselves and for their athletes.
“It’s serious training, but with everything going on we have to take safety precautions,” Statham said. “We’re doing things different.”
For basketball players, that means limited contact when it comes to defense as well as rebounding for themselves. It also means bringing a personal basketball to practices and practicing good hygiene.
Statham trains his players at multiple facilities, so he does his best to keep a clean environment for everyone.
Coaches like Brian Peterson, who runs Peterson Grapplers in Valencia, have a more control over practice facilities. Peterson thoroughly cleans everything at his gym every day, regardless of if there is a pandemic or not.
“We clean it every day as it is,” Peterson said. “We have hospital-style stuff that’s like hardcore virucide, fungicide, antibacterial solution and highly concentrated, kills everything. We use that on all if our floors and all of our gear and everything.”
The amount of people that come through Peterson’s gym or a Statham Academy workout is advantageous in a situation in which gatherings of 50 people or more are discouraged. Statham doesn’t train more than 50 people in a day and Peterson said that the number of wrestlers in his classes has dropped to around three.
Throwzone Academy, a baseball pitching facility run by Jim Wagner, also sees less than 50 people per day. Wagner has taken plenty of precautions to make sure that he maintains a clean area for his athletes and has encouraged parents to keep their kids home if they aren’t feeling well.
“We sent out an email to all of our clients,” Wagner said. “It just says things for the players to do. When they come in, they’re going to wash hands or hand sanitize before and after, no high fives, no hugs, we’re barely doing elbow bumps in light of trying to adhere to what the social distancing is.”
Athletes always have the option of working out at home, something that Statham has already experienced with clients. He’s put together detailed at-home workouts and has done training sessions over FaceTime.
AAU basketball has halted, which leaves Statham’s clients as well as his Creators travel basketball team with out competition. USA Wrestling has postponed competition, so there’s no club wrestling for Peterson’s athletes. The William S. Hart Union High School District has also paused spring sports until April 30, so Wagner’s pitchers will have no games.
Each coach said that getting some training time in could help break the monotony and provide a sense of purpose when all other activities are canceled or limited.
“We are in a good position to allow kids to get some throwing in and be able to do some baseball in light of the fact that they’re stuck at the computer a lot of the day doing homeschool work,” Wagner said.
“That is the basis of opening because we’re a small facility but we see a lot of kids. People are excited that we’re open. Something other than the grocery store.”