NEW PORT RICHEY — Sports are having a tough time getting started at the high school level, but getting youth activities going has been somewhat successful in some areas.
You can add Pasco County as an area that has allowed youth sports to get up and going, and football is being played once again at Wendell Krinn Technical High School, which was formerly known as Ridgewood High School.
The K-Tech Krakens youth football team is led by Daniel Gigantelli, who has current experience on the high school level and was most recently at Weeki Wachee High School and J.W. Mitchell High School. Now, Gigantelli is leading the Krakens as a new program and has many obstacles to overcome during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The biggest challenge has been starting later than normal; we normally would have camps for the kids and many more opportunities for the community to come out and get to know us,” Gigantelli said. “We weren’t able to start that until after the Fourth of July this year. We are a program very centered around community involvement and with social distancing it has been a challenge, but one we are finding ways to overcome.”
Many parents, coaches and players have concerns on how to go about practicing, and Gigantelli said the program is following the same guidelines set by Pasco County Schools. Players and coaches are adhering to the proper social distancing mandates. Gigantelli detailed exactly how they have been handling practices during times when player safety is at its highest.
“We are operating under the same principles as Pasco County Schools, we are running camps in groups of 20 or less including coaches, we are sanitizing equipment after each use before a new group uses it,” Gigantelli said. “We are checking temperatures at the gate prior to entering and asking a series of questions from each guest and participant to gauge that they are safe and have no symptoms and/or have not been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.”
The Krakens practice and play at the old Ram Booster Stadium in New Port Richey and the facility has been more than suitable for the new program’s needs. Having a home facility that is in the heart of the west side of Pasco County has been beneficial for the Krakens, and Gigantelli has been pleased with the early results for the program.
“Being able to use Old Ridgewood has been amazing, not many programs can say they have literally their own stadium and facilities,” Gigantelli added. “K-Tech has been great about letting us use the facilities fully and really giving these kids something to be proud of. It’s also cool for many parents who grew up in the area to have what was at one time known as the pride of Pasco still have football being played there, even if it is on Saturdays and not Friday nights.
“It’s kind of cool for me as I walk into the old Ridgewood locker room and see the list of the final Ridgewood High varsity team, many of those kids are now playing their senior year for me at Fivay where I also coach or we have a brother of one of those kids on the team. It reminds me that this is a true community and old Ridgewood is still a strong fabric piece of that community. So, in some way we are able to keep a legacy going and bring some life into the facility that has seen some great football over the years is really cool.”