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Competition split into three seasons beginning in January 2021, with football kicking off in March

PMG FILE PHOTO - Scappoose's Brisyn Maller and the Indians boys soccer team got their shot on the pitch last fall, but this year's team will have to wait until March 2021 for its turn.The calendar for the 2020-21 Oregon high school sports season is here, and while it won't include any contests for Scappoose or St. Helens athletes in 2020, it looks like they may get to play in 2021.

The Oregon School Activities Association shifted all high school sports to 2021, with traditional fall-season sports contests scheduled to begin in March under the new 2020-21 school activities calendar approved by the association's Executive Board on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

"Today's decisions by the Executive Board provide a framework to maximize the potential opportunity for students in Oregon to participate in three seasons during the 2020-21 school year," said OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber. "The Board recognized that a one size fits all approach isn't what's best for students across the state. By waiving policy to allow regional participation this fall, local school districts will have the discretion for participation in those areas that are able to do so safely per state directives."

While there are definitely some downsides to the new plan, there is at least a plan and some level of certainty going forward for St. Helens' and Scappoose's high school athletes, their coaches, parents, families, classmates and fans.

"Since the first of August, we've been hammered with trying to figure out logistics and organization and what's actually going to happen," said Scappoose Athletic Director Adam Strachan. "I like the fact that we have an opportunity still to play sports, that it offers a carrot for all of our athletes and coaches and parents that there will be a sports season for every sport that we offer."

"I was expecting the OSAA to make the decision they did for the 2020-21 school year," said St. Helens Athletic Director Ted Hirning. "The plan that Washington and California had already implemented made sense under the circumstances, and I was hoping that OSAA would do something similar. I am very happy about the decision to delay until the new year, and hopefully, give all of our athletes a chance to compete."

PMG FILE PHOTO - St. Helens' Mavrick Rask and the Lions wont get to play football this fall, but are scheduled to hit the gridiron for real in March of next year.

Winter season sports

Under the OSAA's plan, the first sports of the year would include swimming, wrestling and boys and girls basketball. Those sports would begin with practices on Dec. 28 and the first contests on Jan. 11, 2020. These four traditional winter-season sports would continue on to postseason competition in the week of March 1-7.

Athletes would be limited to the following number of contests in this season: swimming, eight meets; wrestling, nine events; and basketball, 14 games.

Fall season sports

The second season — the tradtional fall-season sports — includes boys and girls cross country, volleyball, boys and girls soccer, and football. It opens for practices on Feb. 22 with the first contests set the week of March 8-14 and the postseason scheduled for April 26-May 2.

The exception there is football, which is scheduled to open play the week of March 15-21 and continue with regular-season games before heading into playoffs in the week of May 3-9.

Athletes would be limited to the following number of competitions in this season: cross country, nine meets; volleyball, 14 playing dates; soccer, 10 games; and football, seven games.

"I get a sense of relief that there is a plan in place to allow each sport to have a season."

Ted Hirning,

St. Helens High School athletic director

Spring season sports

The third season — spring season sports including boys and girls golf, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track, baseball and softball — opens with practices beginning on April 19 and the first contests set for May 3.

Play would continue until June 20, with postseason contests due from June 21-27.

Athletes would be limited to the following number of competitions in this season: golf, 14 nine-hole rounds; tennis, 12 playing dates; track and field, nine meets; baseball, 18 games; and softball, 18 games.

Activities

The new calendar also sets competition and championship dates for activities, including cheerleading, dance/drill, speech, solo music, choir and band/orchestra.

Competition and postseason dates for each of those include: cheerleading (Feb. 22-March 7/April 12-18), dance/drill (March 29-May 4/May 5-11), speech (April 5-18/April 19-25), solo music (April 12-25/April 26-May 2), choir (April 19-May 2/May 3-9) and band/orchestra (April 26-May 9/May 10-16).

"I haven't received much feedback from athletes (yet), but I get a sense of relief that there is a plan in place to allow each sport to have a season," Hirning said. "Our athletes are anxious to participate this year, and even with a delayed and shortened season, this plan gives them the opportunity to do so."

"Our athletes and coaches were really excited," Strachan added. "During the last six months, we haven't had an opportunity to send our athletes and coaches a lot of good news. It seems to be that every time I'm sending out messages to those groups, it's something else is being canceled, or we're delaying a season and then eventually canceling a season. So to be able to put out a message that says, 'These are firm dates that we can anticipate playing our sports and working toward that,' it really put a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel for our kids and our coaches."

The board also voted to waive current out-of-season coaching policies to allow student participation — potentially practice games or scrimmages in any sport — during the fall.

Fall participation may also include conditioning and practices in those permitted activities provided schools adhere to OSAA policies. Participation in those activities will be at the discretion of the local school district in concordance with directives from the governor's office, Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education.

The Executive Board took this action following last week's release of school reopening health metrics by the governor's office and OHA. The OSAA release continues:

"These metrics will result in nearly all OSAA member high schools starting in a Comprehensive Distance Learning format this fall, which presents challenges for the resumption of school activities. Shifting the season calendar later in the school year provides additional time for more schools to return to a hybrid or on-site learning format while providing flexibility for local school districts to make decisions this Fall that are best for their school communities as health metrics and state guidance in this area continues to develop."

Each of the three sports seasons feature a seven-week regular season, followed by an OSAA Culminating Week. Specific plans for culminating week events will be developed in conjunction with member schools in the coming months in alignment with large group gathering guidelines issued by the state.

You can see more information at osaa.org/coronavirus, and you can see the adopted 2020-21 OSAA School Activities Calendar at https://bit.ly/2ENwCem.


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