There will be another delay to the start of high school sports statewide, the OSAA announced Monday.
Practices for the winter season originally were set to begin at the end of this month, but now have been pushed back to February, with fall being the first sports season to go.
“It’s a moving target,” OSAA executive director Peter Weber said in a release. “We needed to make a decision. I think the board made the right decision.”
Fall sports — cross country, soccer and volleyball — will begin practice Feb. 22, with the exception of football, which will open practice Feb. 8. Fall contests will begin March 1, and it will be a short, six-week season. There will be minimal overlap, allowing athletes to play multiple sports.
“I’m excited at the fact that they’re not saying we’re cancelled. What I’m hearing is that there’s hope,” Sprague football coach Jay Minyard said. “The OSAA did a good job of including more acclimation time for football. Football coaches need time to make sure the kids are physically ready to play.”
Spring sports — baseball, softball, tennis, golf, and track and field — will follow next, with practices beginning April 5. The winter season will open practices May 10.
The winter season — swimming, wrestling and basketball – was shifted to the end of the calendar to allow enough time for indoor activities to be permitted.
Individual schedules are not yet made, and each season includes an “opt-in culminating week,” which is an option for possible postseason play.
“All of our conversations with the Oregon Health Authority, and following the news, it appears that the models are showing that things are going to get worse before they get better,” Weber said. “As we’re looking to provide as much time as possible to lower case counts — and get counties out of the extreme-risk level, if possible — we thought that this timeline made sense.”
West Salem football coach Shawn Stanley said he isn’t concerned about a shortened season — six weeks instead of the traditional nine weeks plus postseason — as long as they get to play.
“I’m happy to do whatever we can,” Stanley said. “You wouldn’t hear any seniors complaining that they only got six weeks instead of nine. They just want to play.”
Pete Martini covers high school and college sports for the Statesman Journal. You can contact Pete at pmartini@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6730 and follow @PeteMartiniSJ.