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Hillsborough County reinstates spring pay for football coaches

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Hillsborough's Earl Garcia

A week after Pasco County relented on spring supplements for football coaches, Hillsborough County decided to do the same.

Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis sent an email Tuesday night notifying football coaches that their spring supplement would be reinstated. The county was the last among the four in the area to pay football coaches for the month-long training session that was supposed to start on April 27.

Spring football, along with other sports such as baseball, softball and track and field, were canceled by the Florida High School Athletic Association two weeks ago because schools remained closed through the end of the semester. 

Because spring football never took place, administrators in Hillsborough and Pasco initially decided not to pay the spring portion of the annual supplement coaches receive in that sport.  Football head coaches in Hillsborough receive an overall supplement of roughly $3,700 before taxes. Assistants earn $1,900. Those totals are split into two installments with about 70 percent paid in December after the fall season, when games take place, and the remaining 30 percent paid in the spring.

The original decision to withhold pay angered some coaches in the county. 

“We’re not talking about a lot of money, but it’s disrespectful, a slap in the face to all of us who are working throughout the year, spring football or not,” Hillsborough football coach Earl Garcia said two weeks ago. 

That was not the case everywhere. Hernando County paid the full spring supplement for its coaches once the school district shut down all athletic activities in March, nearly a month before the FHSAA made its decision. Pinellas athletic director Al Bennett recommended that all coaches in his county receive their full spring supplement. 

Last week, Pasco County reversed its decision, agreeing to pay football coaches their spring portion and give coaches in the other spring sports their full supplement instead of one that was prorated. 

That left Hillsborough County. Football coaches spent the past two weeks emailing county administrators, including Davis. 

“A few of us reached out and asked them to reconsider their initial decision,” East Bay coach Frank LaRosa said. “It was a good exchange. (Davis) told me he was a coach and understood our time commitment.”

The coaches in other spring sports in Hillsborough County were already getting their full supplement. Now, football coaches will get their spring portion, too.

“A win for the good guys,” LaRosa said.  

Garcia agreed.

“It ain’t enough money to be getting midnight texts over, but I’m glad the superintendent did the right thing,” Garcia said.

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No more fans at Pasco County sporting events after COVID spike

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Stock football stadium

Pasco County has decided to limit all athletic activities to students and coaches due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. 

That means no fans or media members in attendance. 

The new rule starts on Monday and will last until the positivity rate, which has climbed to nine percent, drops to below five percent for a rolling seven-day period. 

In the past two weeks, two county football teams — Wiregrass Ranch and Fivay — had to forfeit playoff games because of a player testing positive for coronavirus and multiple team members and coaches having to quarantine due to contact tracing. 

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COVID case ends Osceola’s volleyball season

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Osceola, which made the Class 5A region finals in volleyball last season, had to forfeit Monday’s district quarterfinal match because its entire junior varsity and varsity teams are quarantining after a player tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said.  

By forfeiting, the Warriors ended their season. They were ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A and were expected to go on another deep playoff run.

“We have to follow what the health officials tell us,” Bennett said. “It’s tough because Osceola is one of our best volleyball teams in the county. I talked to the Florida High School Athletic Association and they said there were plenty of other teams around the state in the same situation.”

Under CDC and Pinellas County health department guidelines, any student athlete who tests positive must be quarantined, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15-minute duration without any face covering. Osceola’s quarantine ends on Oct. 19, a week after the district tournament.. 

All the players have currently tested negative, including the one who was originally positive. But the quarantine did not end. The Warriors also had to postpone their appearance in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game. That title game against St. Petersburg will be made up once the Green Devils’ season ends. 

“It’s heartbreaking for the seniors to have their season end this way, but we’re really excited for the chance to play the PCAC Final at home for senior night as our last match of the season, against our toughest competition, St Petersburg,” Osceola coach Ashley Martin said.”It will feel like a state championship since a trophy is involved.”    

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PHU cancels season opener after a football player tests positive for coronavirus

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Palm Harbor University’s season opener against rival East Lake this Friday has been cancelled after a Hurricanes player tested positive for coronavirus, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett confirmed in a text message.

It was unclear how many PHU players are currently under quarantine. According to CDC and county health department guidelines, a player who tests positive must quarantine, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15 minute duration with a face covering.

The Hurricanes next game is scheduled for Sept. 17 at Wharton. Bennett said the school is looking into moving that game to Saturday or Monday to avoid another cancellation.

The Eagles will now host Sarasota Riverview in Friday’s opener.

This is the fourth area football program that had to cancel its season opener after having a player test positive for the virus.

Hillsborough and Jefferson, which were supposed to play on Friday, both have players under quarantine. Their opponents, Chamberlain and Gaither, are now kicking off the regular season against each other.

Zephyrhills is in a similar situation and had to cancel its first two games.

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