Culver joins other Central Oregon schools for fall (spring) sports
Culver High School is one of the few high schools in the state that is expecting to start the school year with face-to-face learning.
The Bulldogs are also about to resume athletic competition.
"I thought we were going to hook up as (athletic directors) and decide if we were going to go the club route or the high school sports route," Culver AD Shea Little said. "Everybody decided to kind of do their own thing, so Madras, Bend and La Pine are going the club route, and Redmond and Ridgeview have got a couple of new ADs and they are going to try to do both. And then Crook County, us and Sisters are trying to protect our coaches and are going to stick with high school sports. That way our coaches don't have to try to create clubs and not have the insurance and liability problems starting programs that may only last for season 1. We would be throwing our coaches out to the wolves as far as liability because we don't have clubs in place, so we are going to go for it."
Culver, along with Crook County, Redmond, Ridgeview and Sisters, have chosen to compete during the OSAA season 1.
Culver will compete in track and field, baseball, and softball against the larger Central Oregon schools.
The five Central Oregon schools have divided OSAA season 1 into three sections, with spring sports running through the first week of October, fall sports starting in October and running into mid-November, and winter sports beginning in late November. Each season will have an abbreviated season with approximately three weeks of competition.
The Culver softball team will begin competition with a game at Ridgeview on Monday, Sept. 21. The Bulldog softball team will host Ridgeview Wednesday the 23rd, while the Culver baseball team will play at Ridgeview on Thursday, Sept. 24. All three games will begin at 4 p.m.
Although teams are playing, this is not a normal sports season. Little said that Culver is taking a number of steps to ensure the safety of its athletes and coaches.
All athletes and coaches are wearing masks for both practice and competition. In addition, anyone entering Culver's athletic fields or courts will be required to answer a simple health check, as well as have their temperature taken. That includes all spectators.
"We are requiring masks, even outside, for any person that comes on our grounds," Little said. "Any person that comes on the grounds is going to be screened with a temperature check and for signs of symptoms, and they are going to have to wear a mask outside if they want to attend an event. When it comes to masks, that's going to be a pain, but we've got to be consistent with that so that we can continue to play because if one kid gets COVID in Ridgeview and we've played them, then we have to quarantine for two weeks, which is going to keep kids from coming into school and everything. So, we are just going to screen everybody, and we are going to wear a mask. It doesn't matter who you are, if you are coming to an athletic event, you are going to have your temperature taken and you are going to be screened and you are going to be required to wear a mask, or you are going to be asked to leave."
Little added that he doesn't want the entire issue to become political; the school is just making sure that they are complying with rules from the Oregon Health Authority and the governor.
As long as they comply with the rules and social distancing, spectators will be welcome at events. However, the governor's rules cap outdoor events at 250 people, so it is possible that the number of spectators will be limited, particularly at track meets.
"We split up schools for track meets so we aren't all going to go to Crook County because that's going to push the 250 limit," Little said. "And then we would have to limit spectators."
One other major change in the current rules is that athletes will be expected to provide their own transportation.
"We are pushing the limits of the district in school, so we aren't going to touch anything that is going to jeopardize them coming to the school," Little said. "So, we've had our lawyers draw up a transportation waiver, and we've told parents and coaches and everybody else that because it is a total voluntary thing, we are treating it like a summer activity. We aren't paying our coaches, and our kids need to transport themselves. They obviously have to sign a waiver that is going to protect the district."
Little added that if a coach isn't comfortable coaching due to COVID, or if they aren't comfortable with the rules, they are free to not coach during season 1. There is also no expectation for players, and Little noted that the baseball team, which he coaches, has had far fewer athletes so far than normal.
Little is continuing to coach despite being in a high-risk group for COVID-19 as a double lung transplant survivor.
"I'm always in the high-risk group, whether it's the flu or anything," he said. "I'm still going to be out there coaching and helping kids out. My lung team is a little nervous about it, but the good Lord is taking care of me, and I'm being super careful. I've been sanitizing my entire office probably every five minutes. I wear a face mask. If the numbers start going up and we have some positive cases, then I will probably look at backing off and really isolating myself as far as exposure to kids and stuff, but it's all good, and we are going to roll."
Little added that although he is excited for competition to resume, there are still a lot of unknowns that have to be addressed. Not only has COVID-19 changed the sports landscape, teams had to cancel practice on Friday due to smoke, something that may continue to impact practices this coming week and possibly even for weeks to come.
"Our spring coaches have been rock stars," he said. "They are taking temperatures, they are marking it down right as the kids come on the field, and everybody is wearing a mask. We are hoping to get some games, but we all know that someone could get sick and it will all blow up. If we have even one positive case, we are going to be shut down for two weeks, so it's kind of a two-edged sword. If they are going to allow us to compete and other people are competing, then we want our kids to compete, but we know there's a huge risk involved with it for COVID and for holding on to our OSAA seasons."
Culver season 1 spring sports season schedules
Sept. 21, 4 p.m. at Ridgeview.
Sept. 23, 4 p.m. Ridgeview at Culver
Sept. 28, 4 p.m. Culver at Redmond
Sept. 30, 4 p.m. Redmond at Culver
Oct. 2, 4 p.m. Culver at Sisters
Oct. 5, 4 p.m. Culver at Crook County
Oct. 6, 4 p.m. Sisters at Culver
Sept. 24, 4 p.m. Culver at Ridgeview
Sept. 29, 4 p.m. Culver at Redmond
Oct. 1, 4 p.m. Redmond at Culver
Track & Field
Oct. 1, 4:30 p.m. Culver and Crook County at Redmond
Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m. Culver and Redmond at Sisters
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