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Football practice during a pandemic? Kids close together at Deem Hills Park in Phoenix

Posted at 9:25 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 01:44:56-04

PHOENIX  — Was it a practice and should it have taken place? A gathering at a local park is drawing criticism amid social distancing guidelines and who, specifically, was at the field.

A concerned citizen, wishing to remain anonymous, reached out to ABC15 and shared pictures from Deem Hills Park in Phoenix this week. The pictures appear to show kids in close contact with each other, playing football and either practicing or partaking in drills.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused Arizona schools to close and social distancing guidelines call for people to stay at least six-feet apart to help slow the spread of the virus.

The Deer Valley Unified School District told ABC15 the boys in the pictures appear to be Mountain Ridge football players from various levels. The district said this gathering was not organized by nor run by the Mountain Ridge Football Program. The district said one or more fathers organized an "informal gathering."

However, when ABC15 asked if any of those fathers happened to be members of the football coaching staff, the district confirmed Head Coach Doug Madoski was involved. The Deer Valley Unified School District said the coach was at the park working with his son, who is a member of the team, and allowed his son to see some of his friends from the team. The district says the coach did not organize the gathering.

ABC15 asked if, given social distancing measures, the district agreed with the head football coach at Mountain Ridge taking part in this type of activity. V

ia email, a district representative answered: DVUSD urges everyone in our community to adhere to the social distancing guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The district representative also told ABC15 they are reminding all coaches of social distancing guidelines.

Reached by phone, Coach Madoski said he was not allowed to speak with the media, and referred ABC15 back to the district.

While the Deer Valley Unified School District maintained the gathering was not sanctioned by the Mountain Ridge High School Football Program, ABC15 asked about district-specific policies as it pertains to team activities or practices.

According to the district, activities that do not conform to local, state and federal guidelines are not allowed. They say coaches may meet with teams virtually, but formal activities are not allowed.