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'Feels Great!' Oakland Student Athletes Back On The Field For First Time Since Pandemic

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- It's not quite "Friday Night Lights", but for the first time in nearly a year, student athletes are on the field at Castlemont High School, getting a workout in with their teammates and classmates.

The rules of engagement are strict - no pads, no helmets, no contact and masks on. Still, these football players are getting their first conditioning workout since the Spring.

"It feels great, even if I can't tell half the faces or you know, do actual football things, it's great just to workout with guys that I've known for a while," said Skyline senior Ian Priclik.

For teenagers stuck on Zoom all day long, they are finally getting a chance to release some of their pandemic anxieties, four days a week for an hour a day, thanks to these outdoor conditioning session.

"To have the opportunity to practice, even if we might not have our season it gives us an opportunity to let out our emotions and anger that's been building up over the 11 months - just to let it feels great," said Skyline High cheerleader Jaylani Perez.

Coaches say it is absolutely necessary.

"In our area, it's very essential to keep our kids busy because they can get … idle time is the devil's playground," said Castlemont Head Football Coach Edward Washington.

Parents, like Jamie O'Donal agree.

"It's taken a toll on them, on their bodies, their whole morale as kids."

The plan, enacted in Oakland, dovetails with a larger push to open student sports in California called "Let Them Play". A group of bi-partisan state legislators sent a letter to Governor Newsom asking him to loosen restrictions for a generation stuck on Zoom. The Assembly will also introduce a resolution on the topic this week.

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