Roseburg High School’s sports coaches — along with the rest of the coaches around the county and state — were hoping to salvage a portion of the 2020 spring season.
But the striking blow likely came late Tuesday when Gov. Kate Brown announced an extension of her previous statewide school closure order to combat the spread of coronavirus, saying now schools will be shuttered until at least April 28.
The Oregon School Activities Association had suspended all practices and games until March 31. Roseburg Public Schools announced RHS competitions were canceled through April 10.
The Roseburg softball and baseball teams were scheduled to open their respective seasons on Monday, the girls hosting McNary of Keizer and the boys traveling to Salem to meet Sprague.
The baseball team’s home opener on the new turf Wednesday against Wilson of Portland at Bill Gray Stadium at Champion Car Wash Field was one of 12 Class 6A contests wiped out.
“We’re waiting to find out what’s going to happen,” Troy Thompson, in his 18th year as the Tribe’s head baseball coach, said prior to Gov. Brown’s announcement. “Everybody’s in the same boat. It’s a weird feeling, for sure, and it’s out of our hands and we’ll make adjustments when we need to.
“It’s disappointing to not have the opportunity to play and have a normal type of year. We hope to get the opportunity later in the spring and if that should happen, we’ll be ready. The bottom line is this is a very critical (health) issue and you don’t want to take away from that.”
The pandemic has already cost the Indians all of their nonconference schedule. If the spring season is able to run, Roseburg would jump right into Southwest Conference play.
Roseburg has 10 seniors on its roster and believes it’s capable of making a postseason run after advancing to the quarterfinals last year.
“Like every year, we have a nice group coming back,” Thompson said. “With a senior-heavy team, it’s disappointing at this point to not be out there. The biggest thing is not to be able to practice and be around this group and share things baseball season consists of.”
Dave Blevins is in his first season as Roseburg’s head softball coach after serving as an assistant under Tony Campos and Brad Deaver. Unlike the baseball team, the Tribe is a young squad with only one senior and won’t get to gain valuable experience through its nonconference schedule.
“It puts a big damper on everything,” Blevins said before learning schools would be closed four more weeks. “Not just us, but all spring sports. It’s hard to get your team lined out without a preseason; I’ll probably have to go with my gut instincts if we play after April 10.
“I really hope we can continue our season, but I’m not (optimistic) which is a sad deal.”
Dave Heverly is in his 21st season as RHS’s head boys lacrosse coach. Lacrosse is a club sport and not sanctioned by the OSAA.
“We’re following everything the OSAA has given to everybody,” Heverly said. “It is what it is. Everybody has been affected by this, not just sports. Nobody’s competing and it sucks for everybody.”
Heverly has around 40 players signed up this year.
“I feel bad for the kids,” Heverly said. “To potentially miss out on your senior year is tough. To get any kind of season, that would be great.”
Roseburg girls tennis coach Jeremy Root has a small, but talented team this season. The Indians finished third in the 6A state tournament last year.
“It just hit and they shut everything down,” Root said. “I told all the girls (the last time at practice) just be safe. I don’t think we’re going to play this year.”
RHS head track and field coach Gwen Bartlett has around 145 kids in her program. The Indians were scheduled to open their season Wednesday with a Tri County meet at Finlay Field. They won't get to host the 45th annual Jim Robinson Twilight Invitational — one of the top invites in the state — on April 11.
"I'm trying to keep a positive attitude," Bartlett said. "I'd like to hope we could do something for the kids' sake (as far as having an abbreviated season). My heart goes out to them."