Friday morning the Oregon School Activities Association announced that all sports practices and games have been suspended across the state until March 31. The news followed Thursday’s news from Governor Kate Brown that schools across the state would be closed due to the public health threat of coronavirus.
There is no guarantee that the spring season will be played.
“During this suspension we will evaluate this evolving public health situation with the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Education, the OSAA Executive Board, the OSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and member school administrators from throughout the state to determine when, or if, to resume the spring season,” OSAA said in a statement.
It was the latest in a busy week of sports across the world, country and state suspending, and even canceling, contests and seasons.
Earlier in the week the Class 4A, 5A and 6A state basketball tournaments were canceled midway through the competition. This weekend’s annual Big Mike All-Star basketball games that were going to be played at Marshfield High School on Sunday have been postponed, with no future date set.
And along with the state basketball tournament, OSAA canceled its other remaining winter championship, dance, which impacts Marshfield's team, the Upbeats.
At Marshfield, the news of the postponement of the spring sports season was understood.
“You’ve got to remember, my kids, and the whole school suffered a huge loss. We have felt the repercussions this spring of a student athlete so this is basically just a hiccup,” said Marshfield assistant athletic director and baseball coach Floyd Montiel, in reference to the death of junior baseball player Blake Crane from complications related to influenza B last month.
“We’re all happy that nobody is ill here in town and my kids are very positive and they’re going to go out and they’re going to play catch and they’re going to stay in shape. ... This is just another bump in the road. Compared to what we’ve gone through, and what the family has gone through, this is easy.”
For athletic directors around the area, it was a week of monitoring the news and trying to figure out what the upcoming season would look like. The spring sports season took a turn after the NBA was suspended on Wednesday, which was followed by the Thursday cancelation of the NCAA tournament and a host of other events.
As sports were stopping globally and school districts across the country were being temporarily closed, local schools were left searching for answers.
“There were so many questions that people had. Were we going to have practice? Could we have a game without people watching? All this stuff,” said North Bend athletic director Mike Forrester. “Pretty soon it was just mass panic and people just trying to make sure – if you were playing games seeing if the other school was still going to play.”
Until Friday's announcement from OSAA, North Bend and Marshfield were scheduled to play each other in both baseball and softball on Monday — without fans. The Bulldogs were also scheduled to begin the league season next week.
“In the end we’re going to have to get together and make a whole new schedule after we come back. I don’t know when that happens,” said Forrester. “I wish I had a crystal ball so I could tell parents and tell our fans hey we’re going to start playing on this date. But I think we’re all, honestly, hoping that in all of this that this passes and we feel safe enough to have any sports this spring.”
Spring sports – baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf seasons – started practice on March 2. The suspension of the season has local coaches trying to figure out what is next.
“For us, to think we will have a full league season, that’s probably not going to happen,” said North Bend softball coach John Olson. “There’s still that threat out there that we might lose the entire season which would be really sad but it would be worse if a loved one or somebody in the family contracted the virus and ended up passing away.”
In Bandon, head track and field coach Brent Hutton is hoping that his team of about 50 athletes will follow along with the two weeks of workouts he has provided them with as they head into this break.
“You can only control what you can control so if you take the time and schedule your day and find time to do the workouts that I’ve given them, we’ll be ready. If it doesn’t, we’ll be fitter which is all we’ve got,” said Hutton.
“One girl came to practice today and said, ‘Can I sign up for track?’ I said, uh, well, you can but I’m not making any guarantees there will be a season.”
One event that had been scheduled next week was the annual Coos County Meet, the oldest annual high school meet in Oregon. Coaches will try to reschedule that event later in the season.