Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Group donations help fund purchase and Schwab trucks them from Utah university

LON AUSTIN - Two outdoor sports courts were delivered to CCHS Friday. On hand were, from left, Jake Huffman, Ernie Brooks, Jeff Lowenbach and Ryan Cochran. The courts will help give the school an option to address COVID protocols, but will also allow for more outdoor recreation opportunities in the future, for instance basketball and volleyball tournaments.When it comes to COVID and athletics, Crook County High School has been very proactive.

First, the school purchased ionizing machines to sterilize athletic equipment. Then, the school, along with other Central Oregon schools, found a way to have outdoor competitions during OSAA Season 1.

With most Central Oregon schools unable to play volleyball indoors, Crook County and several other schools in Central Oregon switched to club volleyball. Since Crook County was the only school holding in-person learning, Crook County hosted all of the volleyball matches, giving kids an opportunity to play.

Now, with indoor sports still shut down, the school has found a way to be able to hold both volleyball and basketball games outside.

This past Friday, the school took possession of two college-size basketball courts. The two courts are Sport Court, a modular court made of plastic that can be laid on any flat surface, indoor or out.

With 8,300 square feet of forest green panels of 2-foot square flooring, the courts can be configured as needed and can be set up on any hard, relatively flat, surface.

"We have been wanting them for a couple of years, just kind of as a luxury," Crook County athletic director Rob Bonner said. "You know, it would be cool to have our own tournaments and things in the summer and just some more flexibility, but now it's more of a necessity with this COVID issue. If indoors are still kind of sticky, then we will be able to play outdoors; it covers all of our bases, just in case."

Getting the courts was a community effort. CCHS head track and field coach Ernie Brooks first became aware of the courts, which were owned by Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. The university was auctioning off the courts, which are currently unlined.

Brooks made administrators aware of the opportunity, and the school used equipment funds, as well as money donated by Rimrock Central Volleyball Club, the Spurs girls youth basketball program, and the Cowboys youth basketball program, to win the auction.

The courts were then delivered to CCHS with help from Les Schwab Tires, which donated the use of a truck for delivery.

"The beauty of this is you could put it on blacktop, you could put it on grass if you wanted to put it on the infield of the softball field, you could do that because it's elevated," Bonner said. "I remember a few years ago when the Portland Trail Blazers came to town and they did that fun thing in the park by Tastee Treet. They blocked off one of the side streets and they made a basketball floor on what I thought would be too rough of a surface and it was perfect; it leveled it off. We could also set these two courts up in the back of our parking lot and have basketball tournaments in the parking lot in the summer and have fundraisers, and so it gives us a lot of flexibility in the future."

Although the school wanted to have portable courts in the past, Bonner said that now, with COVID, it is especially important for schools to be flexible to make sure that kids still have the opportunity to participate in athletics.

"With the extreme risk category that we are currently in, the indoor facilities are shut down, and there aren't any suitable outdoor facilities for kids to shoot around in even if the weather was good enough that they could," he said. "So, with this, if we find a place with a cover, the sides could be open. If it's covered, we could lay this down and kids could show up and shoot around and still maintain social distance and the guidance protocols. Come spring, if we can't play indoors, we will still have facilities so that we can host games. In fact, we will have the only outdoor courts in Central Oregon."

There is still work to be done before the courts can be used. They have to be lined, and there is still the question of acquiring portable hoops.

However, Bonner is confident that will be taken care of in plenty of time to host games.

"We still have some work to do, but with this community, we will make it happen," he said. "I know that basically all you need is two portable hoops and throw out some balls, so the first step was getting the court, and now we will solve all the other issues as they come up."

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