SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – It may be a pop-up football field on farmland near San Bernardino County, but being off the field just wasn’t an option for Orange County high school quarterback Noah Fifita.
Fifita is playing for Winner Circle Athletics, based in Corona. While so much of life is now “socially distant,” he’s choosing to play a contact sport.
The rewards, he believes, outweigh the risk.
“Football, if you’re not willing to take the risk, even if there was no COVID, obviously there’s a risk of getting injured always. Football’s been a big part of my life and this is a small risk I’m willing to take for the long haul,” Fifita said.
It's Fifita's junior year, a big year for scholarship offers for high school athletes. Thus far the pandemic has sidelined the high school sports season.
Even though he was the California State Sophomore of the Year in 2019, he doesn’t necessarily have the prototypical frame of a Division I quarterback.
He’s chosen to be out here in San Bernardino County practicing with Winner Circle and traveling out of state for their games because felt he needed to play through the 2020 pandemic to be seen.
“I feel like I’m not a big ‘camp’ guy, I don’t meet the ‘eye test’ so being able to compete on the field against these guys and show what I can do with a line in front of me, I think that’s big just being able to continue to update my film and show college coaches what I’m able to do,” said Fifita.
For parents like Sara Ayers, the reasons for keeping her kids on the field, extend off it.
Her older daughter had two scholarships rescinded because of the the pandemic.
The mental toll it took not having sports in her kids' lives is something she feared as much, if not more, than the virus.
And when Winner Circle gave her the opportunity to get her 8th grade son Isaiah back on to the field, she says she did it without hesitation.
“This life for them to continue brings such positive morale to them. The energy is high, the excitement of being there with their friends, making new friends has been huge for them,” Ayers said.
Meanwhile, Fifita has caught the attention of several schools and has managed to secure three Division I offers in recent weeks.
With the CIF sports season yet to get underway, he says he’s happy he‘s been able to count on being on this field.
“With season up in the air it’s scary but I’m happy that I’m able to be out here at Winner Circle for this,” Fifita said.