Low contact high-school sports return in Santa Clara County

It’s a return to high school sports in Santa Clara County. On Wednesday night, officials said the county will align with the state and allow for the first time in months, outdoor low contact sports like swimming, track and field, and golf. The updated directive comes after a lot of confusion.

A day prior, the Santa Clara County Office of Education relayed new rules from county health officials, rules different from the state that essentially made it impossible for kids to play sports with strict social distancing requirements. On Wednesday night, those rules changed.

At Willow Glen High School in San Jose on the football field rain or shine, soccer players are practicing. Over at the pool, swimmers are getting their laps in. The school is renting out the field and pool to private club teams.

It’s frustrating for Mike Flynn who coaches track at Willow Glen High, his student athletes have yet to play this year.

"There are people who are little bit more privileged and have the ability to pay for their children to play sports when high school sports have been locked out," said Flynn.

On Wednesday, a bit of good news, Santa Clara County said it’s now following state guidelines allowing for youth sports in the purple tier cross country, golf, swimming and diving, track and field to resume practice and competition. 17-year-old Elizabeth Eckstrom competes in track and field.

"Everyone should be on the equal playing field," said Eckstrom. "You have some people who can compete and some people who can't, it creates a whole discrepancy."

The update comes after a lot of confusion and frustration from coaches. The county had called for individual players to remain six feet apart and for teams to be spaced at least 25 feet.

"It would have been better for them to say you can’t play sports than for them to say you have to maintain 25 feet of distance," said Flynn.

For weeks, the state had been facing mounting pressure from parents and coaches to let kids play worried about kids’ mental health and concerns with college scholarships.

"Everyone’s tolerance level for risk is different and if you want to participate in a sport and are willing to take that risk of distance that's safe they need to let that happen," said Flynn.

No word on why the county reversed restrictions. For Willow Glen High Senior Kelsey Musolf, she admits she is hesitant about returning to the track.

"Track meets are extremely crowded. If I didn't feel comfortable or being too close to too many people, I probably would not finish my senior year of track," said Musolf.

Under the state guidance, for counties in the purple tier, higher contact youth sports like baseball, basketball and football are still not permitted.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at azenith.smith@foxtv.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.