Winter Sports in The Summer

The OSAA releases a new schedule for the 2020-21 high school athletics.

Emma Jeanson, Staff Reporter

When people hear basketballs hitting the floor or see wrestling mats being laid out across the gym, it usually is an indication that the winter season is here along with the winter sports. However, not this year. Instead, the Oregon heat will fill up the gyms as the winter sport season begins in the weeks leading into summer.
Originally, the Oregon School Activities Association declared in August that the sports seasons would start with winter sports, beginning on Dec. 28. As the date approached and the metrics for the pandemic were not getting smaller, the OSAA executive board came together on Dec. 7 to alter the season schedule for the upcoming six months of the school year.
According to the statement made by OSAA, interscholastic sports will start in February for football, volleyball, cross country, and soccer. Following that, in April, baseball, lacrosse, softball, golf, tennis, and track and field will begin their seasons. The winter sport season consisting of basketball, wrestling, and swimming, is last on the schedule, starting in May and ending in late June. Each season will last around six weeks with an opt-in culminating week for post-season competition.
For the spring and fall seasons, their schedules do not differ drastically from the original August plan. However for the winter sport athletes, their season went from first to last, leaving five extra months of waiting.
“It’s disappointing that we have to wait that long, but I think I’m just thankful that we get a possible season at all,” senior Addie Reardon said. Reardon’s girls varsity basketball season won’t begin for another five months, and will end after she and the other seniors on her team have already graduated. “I think it’s gonna be kind of weird and different graduating before the end of the season because we’re all used to playing during school but I think it’ll allow us to focus more on the season and less on schoolwork.”
Tuli Freeman, a senior on the wrestling team, will also have his season cut short to six weeks and start in May. “If we can get in a season, that’ll be great. . . if we just get these six weeks like if we can wrestle and we can be together as a team and like do our thing, then I mean that’s great,” Freeman said. Although hopeful the season won’t get cancelled, Freeman still believes that multisport athletes will have a hard time choosing what sport to focus on considering how short and close together the seasons are.
Like Freeman and Reardon, senior Max Wise who plays on the boys varsity basketball team has the same opinions about his season being pushed back.
“I think during winter, it’s kind of hard for kids especially because I think it’s been so long since we’ve seen our friends that we kind of need sports not just from the physical activity aspect but kind of more like the mental health, and like trying to be okay with being inside [at home] kind of sucks. And so I would say [the season] getting pushed back, I’m not a fan of it, but in any retrospective we get to play, I’d be happy,” Wise said.
With the delayed season, questions about Oregon athletes who will play in college have also risen. For some Division I schools across the country, winter sport athletes, such as basketball players, are asked to go to the University and train in the summer as early as June. “I would say the season getting pushed back affects decisions by people who are gonna know where they are going for school. . . And I think that could affect people’s decision on if they want to play or not,” said Wise.
Since many Oregon winter sport athletes are already committing to a D-1 or D-2 University, many of them may not stick around after graduation for their high school season, knowing they will still be able to play at a higher level in college. If that is the case in June, it will give schools who won’t be missing any players a bigger advantage in the OSAA culminating week starting June 21.
Despite the winter season being almost half a year away, Freeman, Reardon and Wise are still practicing or training at least a few times a week. For the wrestling squad Freeman said that, “we’re trying to do like some socially distance practices. . . with the team we scheduled two days [a week] outside.”
For girls basketball, Reardon explained that they have been practicing twice a week, outside, socially distanced with masks on. Reardon plans to keep continuing to attend the workouts along with others on the team, hoping to get the most out of the upcoming five month preparation.
Although the boys basketball team hasn’t officially organized any workouts or practices yet, Wise still stresses the importance on preparing for the season.“I would say I’m still gonna prepare like this is the last season I’ll ever play because it could be, and I’m still gonna prepare, like I’m gonna play next week,” said Wise.
As of right now, the December schedule is thought to be strong enough to stay in place for the high school athletes and with the upcoming vaccine soon to be distributed across the country, it has a great chance of being the final plan. However, as long as the coronavirus is still around, nothing is guaranteed.