Faced with overcrowding, Paly athletics looks to Greene’s facilities

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Emily Yun, Culture Editor

Come spring, Palo Alto High School athletes may be practicing and competing at Greene Middle School instead of on their home turf due to overlapping of facilities, according to Paly Athletic Director Nelson Gifford.

For the 2020-2021 school year, Paly athletics will be divided into two seasons instead of the usual three, according to Gifford. Sports typically played in the fall and winter, including tennis and basketball, will now be played during the spring.

PAHS students jog on the track at Viking Stadium, where various sports teams typically practice and compete during the school year. Due to COVID-19, the 2020-2021 Paly Athletics season was shortened to two seasons, which will likely cause field shortages, according to Paly Athletic Director Nelson Gifford. Gifford is coordinating with Greene Middle School Athletic Director Patrick Rode to let Paly athletes use Greene’s facilities. “The thing about middle school athletics is that they get out of school earlier than we do,” Gifford said. “They practice earlier than we do. They have games earlier than we do. Everything tells me that there actually should be less conflict there than we might think there is.” Photo: Emma Jiang

“Season One isn’t going to be that bad,” Gifford said. “If you look at Season One, there isn’t going to be the same facility conflict. Cross country, football, field hockeythose are sports that are already played at the same time.”

Gifford said that Season Two presents more of a scheduling challenge due to increased demand for the same practice facilities.

“Come Season Two, when you have badminton, boys’ and girls’ basketball, cheer, dance, wrestling, track and field, baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ soccerit’s going to be hard,” Gifford said.

Greene Athletic Director Patrick Rode said he has been communicating with Gifford for months about Paly sports teams using Greene’s facilities.

He and I have talked about having Paly potentially coming in after our practices and programs would be done, or other ways that the programs can co-exist safely and within county and CIF-CCS [California Interscholastic Federation Central Coast Section] boundaries,” Rode said.

Chase Hartmann, the city of Palo Alto’s recreation coordinator for middle school and adult sports, said one potential issue with sharing facilities is high school athletes taking opportunities away from middle school athletes.

Rode said he and Gifford are making sure to prioritize middle school athletes.

Coach Nelson, the middle school athletic directors, and the school officials will be communicating properly to make sure times don’t overlap and no toes are stepped on,” Rode said.

According to Rode, Paly and Greene have shared facilities in the past and have only faced minor conflicts.

“The only issue would be Paly coaches coming in before their scheduled times, but we have worked in the past with them and everybody understands the time constraints we all have,” Rode said. “The gym and facilities at Greene are all large enough to have the proper cohorts and spacing required to safely have high school sports.”

Gifford said he is hopeful for Seasons One and Two.

“There are some schools that have one field for all their sports,” Gifford said. “Our situation—given our facilities, the two full fields and the baseball and softball fields—we are in a good spot.”