The sights and sounds of a high school sporting event will have to wait a little longer, but that wasn’t a surprise to Roseburg High School athletic director Russ Bolin.
“I was kind of expecting this to happen,” Bolin said in response to the Oregon School Activities Association’s latest decision to move the start of high school sports back to March 2021.
The OSAA’s executive board met virtually on Monday and approved an updated sports calendar that will now have fall sports beginning in early March, followed by spring sports in April and the typical winter sports in May.
“I really think that this is the best plan that we could have come up with,” Bolin said. “I would have hated to have (the executive board) come out and say ‘we’re just going to cancel the winter sports season and just move on from there.’ I’m really pleased with the plan they came up with.”
The latest update to the sports calendar keeps a three season approach, hopefully allowing student athletes a chance to participate in every sport they’re passionate about. The seasons will be shortened to six weeks, something Bolin says is just the reality of the situation.
“Everybody wants to have full seasons, but that’s just not going to happen. That’s reality. And with the reality that we’re living in, we’re just going to cram seasons two, three and four into what amounts to the (typical) spring season.”
Originally, the OSAA had altered the season schedule to have winter sports like basketball, wrestling and swimming start practicing in late December and begin competitions in early January.
Jeff Clark, a member of the OSAA executive board and principal and boys basketball coach at Oakland High School, says the group has been working to find a safe return to play plan, but getting there has been difficult due to guidelines handed down from the governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority.
“It’s made it extremely difficult for us to be able to function as an organization and for OSAA to provide the opportunities we want to for kids based on these decisions being made above us.”
Under current guidelines from the state, sports like wrestling, basketball and football are restricted as full contact sports. Wrestling and basketball would have been prohibited if the OSAA had stuck with its original calendar, but those athletes and coaches will now have nearly four months to hope things improve and health restrictions ease.
“We keep holding on hope that we’re going to be able to play and making this choice and pushing things back two months isn’t ideal, but at least it gives us an opportunity to hopefully get in three sports seasons and have kids be able to have something to get out there and compete and show their stuff,” Clark said.
While the delay isn’t what anyone was hoping for, it does still provide some hope that soon enough student-athletes and coaches will be gathering, practicing and competing.
“I’m excited about it,” Bolin said. “I know my coaches will be excited about having kids back and competing. The kids need it and the adults need it as well.”