WILSONVILLE – The OSAA voted on options for football and volleyball on Monday while awaiting new guidance from the state this week.
The start date for both sports, plus cross-country and soccer, is Feb. 22 with contests starting on March 1.
Football is currently prohibited while volleyball is prohibited in counties considered extreme risk, which includes Polk County. Cross-country and soccer are permitted in all counties.
The board hopes that new guidance from Gov. Kate Brown’s Office will allow football and volleyball to move forward.
“We're anticipating, based on the conversations, some type of changes to the contact sports guidance in the next couple of days,” OSAA executive director Peter Weber said. “We don't know what those changes are. But any change would be an improvement to where they are now. While we're waiting for that to potentially happen, we know that we need to be providing the options to schools that will allow people to move forward, depending on what that guidance looks like.”
Football teams began non-contact practices Monday, but without changes to state guidance, contact practices and games would not be allowed. In that event, the board approved potential football activities such as 7-on-7, flag, virtual lineman challenge and virtual combine.
“I think we all know going in that not a single one of these activities is going to replace contact football. We get it,” assistant executive director Brad Garrett said. “But at the same time, we are leveraging every possible opportunity to find opportunities to produce activities that kids and coaches can do together under the current guidelines.
“We certainly remain optimistic that as we move forward, we're going to be able to see some adjustments to current policy that's going to allow a potential return to the game,” Garrett added. “That's what I'm hopeful for.”
Tillamook superintendent Curt Shelley, the board’s 4A representative, said he appreciates the work done in exploring options for football, but “I hope we don't have to fall back onto it.”
“I'm hoping that we can salvage a football season. That's definitely my preference,” Shelley said. “That's definitely, I think, where the board would like to move. I think having this to fall back on is really important. I think this is better than not having any football at all. After reading the comments, I see some schools will choose not to go this route. I think that's a local choice.”
The board voted to proceed with soccer and cross country. Both sports can begin practicing Feb. 22 and start contests March 1.
The board also voted to proceed with volleyball for the 47 schools located in the lower, moderate and high-risk counties. For the schools in the extreme-risk counties, the board approved outdoor volleyball as an option. As of Tuesday, 14 counties, including Polk, were in the extreme-risk category.
Volleyball teams also could benefit from the board approving a “change of season request form.” Schools, leagues and regions not currently permitted to participate in an activity can request to shift their seasons to a later date, when they would be allowed to participate.