POLK COUNTY - Following Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement on Thursday to close K-12 schools statewide following Oregon’s recent COVID-19 outbreaks, all sporting events, including practices and competitions, have been suspended in Polk County until March 31.
On Thursday, the Oregon Schools Activities Association sent out a similar message, while also canceling any remaining state championships, including basketball and dance.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association canceled any remaining state and spring championships, also on Thursday, while the Great Northwest Athletic Conference declared all practices and competition were to be canceled for the spring season.
With spring sports season having just started for Western Oregon University, and many competitions that were around the corner for the high schools, it puts into question what this means for the student-athletes and their coaches.
“It’s been really hard to accept that we won’t be able to be practicing for a big chunk of the season, and a couple of our meets got cut” said Amity Deters, a senior at Perrydale High School who competes on the track and field team, and was the state champion in the long, triple and high jumps last year. “I’m super disappointed, especially since it’s my senior season, but I know it’s the best course of action in the situation.”
While practices are canceled, head track and field coach Brian Evans said he encouraged his athletes to work out on their own to stay in shape when practices and competitions resume.
“(Athletic director) Dan Dugan and I were talking about it — we come back to school that Wednesday (April 1), and we have a meet that Saturday in TIllamook, and we probably will go,” Evans said. “And then we’ll just pick it up from there. It’s just kind of surreal.”
Deters said she plans on staying in shape on her own by strength training and running.
Tim Larson, athletic director at Dallas High School, said it’s better to be safe than sorry right now.
“If everyone follows the letter of the law, then everyone will be on the same playing level when we get back, you know, no one trying to circumvent anything,” he said. “We’ll just have fewer preseason games, maybe a few less regular games. It is what it is. We just have to take it as it comes. We have no control over the situation, and we’ll just deal with stuff that they put out, and move forward.”
Voluntary group practices are strictly off-limits too.
“Because, if let’s say a group of runners decide to meet at a park, as a group, then that constitutes as a practice,” Larson said.
At Central High School, athletic director Ryan O’Malley said there is a lot of unknown right now regarding what the sports season will look like for CHS when the schools reopen.
“Staff will report on March 30, and then we’ll see — that’s the plan for now,” O’Malley said. “But that’s all we know.”
The events surrounding this issue are constantly changing and the I-O will continue to work to update the community as the information comes in.