Pandemic Puts Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Press Luncheons On Hold | Sports

The Monday press luncheons of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table have been a regular part of the sports scene during the school year on the South Coast since 1970.

If you missed any of the college and prep sports action from the previous week and weekend, you could get caught up from the coaches and athletes involved at the weekly luncheon held at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.

The press luncheon is one of many events the Round Table hosts in its ardent support of sports in the community.

The all-volunteer SBART also pays tribute to the standout athletes and coaches of the past with its Hall of Fame ceremony.

Ken Newendorp, the SBART president, said the weekly press luncheons will return when sports return.Click to view larger

Ken Newendorp, the SBART president, said the weekly press luncheons will return when sports return.

The press luncheon and Hall of Fame won’t be happening this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Round Table president Ken Newendorp, who played soccer at San Marcos, SBCC, Westmont and UCSB, said the luncheons will return once sports start up again.

For high schools, that could be in December with boys and girls volleyball, water polo and cross country. Football is slated to start in January.

SBCC and Westmont fall sports are scheduled to start in early 2021. No dates have been announced for when UCSB fall sports will begin.

“Once sports start, we’ll start we doing luncheons, however those look,” said Newendorp, who is hoping the event can return to the Ranchero Room at Harry’s Plaza Cafe.

He said the Hall of Fame, which was scheduled for October, will be postponed to next year.

“I didn’t feel like we could honor those inductees appropriately over Zoom. We’re essentially taking a year off from Hall of Fame,” Newendorp said.

The Evening With the Athletes ceremony, which recognizes the athletes of the year in each sport for high schools and colleges, the high and college coaches of the year and other honorees, remains up in the air.

“That will only happen, obviously, if there is sports,” Newendorp said. “We’re working off the assumption there’s going to be sports played like they’re planning.”

The 2020 Evening With the Athletes was handled through social media platforms and after the pandemic wiped out the spring sports season.

Newendorp and the Round Table were pleased how the community responded to the EWA awards being presented on social media last May.

He noted that the special awards presented at the luncheon like Scholar Athlete of the Year and Phil Womble Ethics in Sports from each school and the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month could be handled through social media while the luncheon remains on hold.

“Bottom line, we’re going to be flexible and we’re going to honor sports as much as we can in person, but we learned from last year social media is not a bad way to continue that connection,” he said.

The Round Table recently held its start-of-the-new-sports-season retreat and discussed how to carry on in the present situation and in the future.

While some of its events have been postponed or are on hold, the non-profit organization will continue to support the local high school and college sports programs, recruit new members and honor the student athletes, said Newendorp.

“At our retreat, the consistent theme through everybody that spoke was they miss sports more than they realize,” he said. “They’re enjoying watching the NBA come back in the bubble, baseball.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is there; we’re seeing it with high school athletics. At least they have a plan in place and a schedule.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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