OSAA: Restrictions still on for ‘contact’ sports

Scott Swanson

The Oregon School Activities Association Executive Board opened the door Monday, Feb. 8, for soccer and cross-country seasons to progress, but maintained some restrictions on volleyball and football.

The board voted to proceed with the cross-country and soccer seasons, with practice beginning Feb. 22 and contests beginning March 1.

Volleyball can progress in counties that are not rated Extreme Risk for COVID-19, the board ruled. Those that are still in Extreme Risk, as Linn County has been, though its numbers are falling.

Currently, 47 OSAA member schools are located in the 12 lower, moderate and high-risk counties. For the schools in extreme-risk counties, such as Linn County, the board approved outdoor volleyball as an option.

Volleyball teams also could benefit from another OSAA board action approving a “change of season request form.” Schools, leagues and regions not currently permitted to participate in an activity can request to shift their seasons to a later date, when they would be allowed to participate.

Football players were allowed non-contact “conditioning” workouts as they began practice Monday, Feb. 8.

Football Coach Dustin Nichol said they decided to “have some fun” and hold a 7×7 tournament.

He noted that some fresh faces were present Monday, beyond the approximately two dozen players that have participated in previous unofficial workouts.

“I think if all that made it tonight and the ones that normally are there all show up at the same time, we would have around 40 kids,” he said.

As things stand, football players who aren’t allowed full contact would have options of playing 7×7, flag, virtual lineman challenge and virtual combine, the OSAA Board said.

The OSAA is hoping for new guidance later this week from the Governor’s Office and the Oregon Health Authority that would open doors for football and volleyball.

“We’re anticipating, based on the conversations, some type of changes to the contact sports guidance in the next couple of days,” said OSAA Executive Eirector Peter Weber. “We don’t know what those changes are. But any change would be an improvement to where they are now.

“While we’re waiting for that to potentially happen, we know that we need to be providing the options to schools that will allow people to move forward, depending on what that guidance looks like.”

The OSAA board is next scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Feb. 17, in a work session.

Sweet Home Athletic Director Nate Tyler said he’s frustrated.

“The aggravating one for me is volleyball. It’s a non-contact sport. There’s an actual barrier in the net.”

He said full schedules have been prepared for all the normal fall sports that would compete in the next month and a half.

“Oregon West athletic directors have worked together – I want to say, this is Draft No. 4 we’ve put together,” Tyler said. “We’ve put together full schedules multiple times. It’s not the most fun. It’s pretty aggravating.

“Our league has been committed to staying in the league. I’m just hoping we can do that. I’m hoping that we have enough schools that can play that we can host and keep everybody playing.”