Uncertainty abounds for local summer sports

Progress is still needed in the fight against COVID-19 before the Oregon high school sports world can get back to scenes like this, when Cottage Grove took on visiting La Grande early in the Fall 2019 season. Summer activities could illuminate the feasibility of getting back to normal as soon as possible. PHOTO BY NICK SNYDER/CG SENTINEL

As local businesses and facilities begin getting back to business during Oregon’s phase one reopening plan, recent updates from the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) may have provided more new questions than answers.

On May 20, Peter Weber, executive director of the OSAA, sent out a letter to superintendents, principals, athletic directors and head coaches detailing recent steps and discussions the association has had in regards to summer sports.

While the letter confirmed that the “current moratorium-like suspension of facilities and coach/student physical interaction will remain in place through the end of the Association Year on May 25” it also gave guidance to relevant parties on how to potentially conduct summer activities for interested student participants.

“I’m gonna send something out to all the coaches,” said Cottage Grove High School athletic director Matt Myers. “I’m gonna try to be really specific about what they can and can’t do, but my impression was it’s gonna be really hard to do anything.”

Indeed, any type of potential summer workout and activity will be made difficult by the necessary safety protocols — in regards to COVID-19 transmission concerns — that OSAA has put in place in order to make summer sports a possibility.

From temperature checks of all athletes to practicing safe social distancing, wiping down equipment before and after use as well as limits on number of total participants and lack of access to locker rooms, Myers and athletic departments around the state have been left wondering about the feasibility of such activities.

“If there are [athletes and coaches] that want to do that, we’ll try and make that work, but right now I’m not planning on doing anything over the summer,” Myers said.

“If someone steps up and wants to do it and is able to follow those protocols, I’ll support them, but I’m definitely not going to require or even encourage them to do it because you’ll just have to keep such a tight watch on everything.”

In line with Myers thinking on the topic, OSAA also elucidated in the letter that “per OSAA policy, participation in summer sports/activities may not be required.”

Nonetheless, Myers and other officials at CGHS recognize the necessity for students to remain active, not just as a mental break during a chaotic time, but in an effort to stay fit for fall sports as well.

“It’s just unfortunate because one of my bigger concerns is that kids aren’t gonna have much to do in the summer,” Myers said. “Then, come fall they’ll be able to compete, but they won’t be fit so there will probably be injuries … I want kids to exercise and be with each other, it’s just gonna be really hard to do much.”

Just as many formerly face-to-face interactions have moved online in other areas of life, however, there are already alternative options being explored, including locally in Cottage Grove.

“Our volleyball coach is trying to do some virtual stuff, some team bonding online over the summer, which I’m probably going to encourage that sort of thing for morale,” Myers added.

The OSAA letter ended by stressing that, as COVID-19 numbers and information are still emerging, much of this guidance is subject to change. The OSAA will be disseminating more information as it becomes available.

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