With prep sports returning to play on the South Coast, the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table is bringing back its weekly press luncheons.
The all-volunteer organization, which has supported local high school and collegiate sports since 1968, will resume its tradition of hosting coaches, student athletes and the news media for eight Mondays, starting on April 5.
The luncheons will be held in the outdoor dining area at The Creekside Restaurant, at 4444 Hollister Ave.
Started in 1970, the SBART luncheons provide local coaches with an opportunity to share insights about their teams’ recent games and highlight their student athletes.
Additionally, the media-selected male and female Athletes of the Week are recognized.
“We are thrilled to start hosting our Monday luncheons again,” SBART president Ken Newendorp told Noozhawk. “It has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and to have the student athletes back together, practicing and competing is wonderful to see.
“I have missed hearing our incredible coaches sharing stories of their teams’ athletic accomplishments and, even more, missed the stories of the community work and high character displayed by our student athletes.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions have been put in place to protect the health and safety of all attendees.
“In an effort to be safe and follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, we had to move to an outdoor venue,” Newendorp explained. “We are sad to leave Harry’s (Plaza Café), where we’ve been hosting luncheons for more than 50 years.
“We are so appreciative that The Creekside has been willing to work with us to safely feed and honor the student athletes.”
Attendance will be limited to 64, and those attending must RSVP through the Eventbrite system.
Coaches can sign up for a maximum of three tickets (two for athletes) at no cost. The RSVP must be completed by no later than noon on the Friday before the Monday luncheon date. Coaches can switch out athletes on the day of the event since the spaces have been reserved. The sign-up link can be found on the SBART website at the top of the press luncheon schedule.
There will a seating protocol at The Creekside.
“The coach and their two athletes will sit together at a table, but we won’t be having multiple teams at a table until guidelines allow that,” Newendorp said. “Instead of the buffet-style enchiladas that everyone loves so much, we’ll be serving pre-plated meals.”
While the press luncheons were suspended because of the pandemic, SBART continued to present its specialty awards, the Scholar-Athlete of Year and Phil Womble Ethics in Sports, in virtual ceremonies. Those presentations will continue through the end of the school year.
Newendorp said it was challenge to safely bring back the luncheons.
“But we feel the luncheons are such an unique opportunity for coaches to publicly honor their student athletes that we were committed to hosting them again,” he said.