It’s enough to make anyone cry.
Homeless encampments along the fence at San Gorgonio High School.
It was a typical Thursday, what would normally be a school day for empty athletic facilities that were turning into a series of dormant living.
There’s no sugar-coating this massive mess of non-use. Everyone seemed to be hiding out.
In truth, there was a sign of life at San Gorgonio High School’s football complex.
A man was practicing golf shots on the lawn at Highland Community Center, but there were no Little League games, as there should’ve been.
Youth soccer had disappeared.
High school sports were not only on hold, but its commissioner had canceled spring sports championships.
Vacant basketball courts showed up in parks all over the city. Wait minute! There was a day when a single player was taking a few shots.
There were a few skateboarders, maybe a couple of cyclists, plus some runners ⎯ all trying to stay active.
It was all about a coronavirus pandemic. A worldwide fear had invaded Highland.
Over a few days, various drive-bys throughout the city offered more than just a clue, or two. Most sports-related venues around the city had virtually no public use.
Call Gov. Newsom. His mandates are being nearly a hundred percent compliant.
Something is badly out of place.
People are supposed to be using these places.
High school campuses, not to mention its little sister middle schools, have been ordered to stand down. All have athletic facilities on site.
The Highland Community Center once stood tall as a way to entertain everyone — young and old — in one form or another.
San Andreas High School, a soccer facility over on Pacific, was practicing social distancing.
A swimming pool at San Gorgonio, an ailing skateboard facility at nearby Speicher Park and a Little League facility down the street seemed to be practicing the same thing.
A Highland law enforcement officer, parked facing northbound on Arden Avenue, sat in the midst of all this social distancing.
It’s enough to drive us all nuts. An entire city is ailing.
A few closer looks:
Aquinas tennis facility — A USTA assisted tennis complex was double protected by fencing and shrubbery. Normally, coach Scott Smith would be drilling singles and doubles for their next matches. Falcons’ tennis players can’t even get on their own well-kept courts.
It seemed almost criminal that this tennis court sat unused, especially when a couple of players racqueting a ball back and forth seemed perfectly socially distant.
Civitan Little League — There it sat. An empty field, deep green grass on an impressive well-manicured site. No one, it seemed, was allowed on.
In fact, gates were locking anyone out.
Spring was set to turn into summer.
Flu season was turning into a hay fever time of year.
Bats and balls were being replaced by a mad scramble for toilet paper and pure survival.
Empty fields usually turn into empty words. There was none to describe this non-scene.
Forget the major league schedule. Being unable to see Little Leaguers in their little uniforms seems off the charts.
San Bernardino Soccer Complex — On a clear day without a worldwide pandemic, this place right off the 215 would be feeding the hunger of soccer players, male and female, their parents and a cadre of visitors.
On certain days, there might be hundreds milling around the facility. Cars in every stall. Snackbar? Lawn chairs?
Instead, there were soccer goals stacked off to one side, unused.
A faint number of cars on the nearby cross-town freeway whizzed past.
On April Fool’s Day, a single worker was keeping the grounds well-groomed. He said, “It’s hard to know just when we’ll open these gates again. Wish it was today.”
Citrus Valley swimming — Didn’t seem right that everything was locked up tight. Chains. Locks. Bars. No one in sight. Chances are, someone was checking security on a live feed.
The pool, surrounded by a locked gymnasium, twin ball fields — softball and baseball — outdoor basketball courts, a faraway tennis facility, plus Hodges Stadium.
Think about it. A single coronavirus disease had shut down 11 different sports in an awful outbreak of boredom in an area that covered, perhaps, 400 square yards in this worldwide pandemic.
Located on a wall inside the facility was a list of school record-holders -- names like Mora, Gile, Weck, plus a bunch more -- who aren’t allowed to splash in a pool they dominated for so long.
Highland Community Center — Two people, plus: They couldn’t have been more than 100 feet apart sometime between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. on April 2.
On the grass, a man was practicing short iron golf shots. Figure that every golf course was shut down for the time being, so he had to find somewhere to keep that smooth stroke alive.
In the nearby parking lot, a woman got out of a car she’d obviously slept in overnight with two small children.
Their breakfast? The trio shared from a gallon jug of water.
“That’s all we have right now,” said the woman.
Meanwhile, the center was closed due to the coronavirus.
This place had seen better days. An adjoining city library, all those ball fields and the superstar center all adds up to a good time for the neighborhood.
Not today. A city worker, driving a truck in the parking lot, seemed poised for a full day of assignments.
Lying beneath all that happiness was a pileup of suffering.
There was a discussion with the woman, and kids, about possible landing places for a meal.
“Where is that?” she asked. Before any address or directions could be offered up, she said, “Oh … I know that place.”
Footnote: Central Little League’s massive, well-manicured complex was going unused.
San Gorgonio High School — There were a pair of district employees on a work detail. One was masked. The other one, replacing a hose inside a school district truck, stood between the school’s swimming complex and the tennis courts. No mask.
On a normal day, such a passway would be milling with students, male and female, carrying either a racket or wearing a Speedo.
“No one is allowed to be here,” said the masked worker.
The visitor had a brief purpose. “Be out of here in five minutes.”
No swimming. No tennis. No school.
Nearby Spartan Stadium, named for one time principal Phil Haley, at least was being used. A trio of athletes, a football in their possession, was involved in a workout. Pass patterns. A throwing drill. There was some social distance practicing going on. More than 10 yards separated each of the trio.
Everyone seemed to be healthy. There was some coaching taking place.
“Got to cut … got to cut it sharper,” one older male told another.
In reality, it was simple therapy. It was a positive vibe, for a change.
At the end of Arden Avenue, the southern end that dead-ends near the school’s empty varsity softball field, a homeless encampment was lined up along the fence.