Opinion: Return of high school sports will help unite us

Fall sports in February not ideal, but it’s a start

Happy first day of Fall Sports practice everyone.

Paul Valencia
Paul Valencia

<Checks calendar, cringes>

Sports fans are always hoping their teams make history. Well, this is historic. 

Are you ready for some football? And volleyball? And girls soccer? Heck, what about slowpitch softball? Seriously, you ready?

Well, the athletes in those sports get to begin practice today in Southwest Washington. That is worthy of celebration. It’s a start. Even if it might be ruled a false start.

When those sports can actually begin competition remains unknown.

There are, however, three fall/February sports that are able to practice and play. Let’s lift up the cross country runners. Let’s give a shout-out to boys golfers. And a salute (and a prayer) should go out to boys tennis players, as well. They all start official practice today, too, and next week, they can compete.

Now, let’s face it, runners, elite runners, will run any time, anywhere, in any conditions. Running in February, with the stinging rain in their faces, might not be fun, but runners can handle it. This is what they do.

The best golfers also will play year round. Although, when it’s pouring, and puddles form on the greens, they’re not always on the course. But they are practicing somewhere. So, yes, they can handle this Fall-in-February challenge as well.

Tennis players. Wow. Don’t know what to say. If you can handle playing outdoors in February and early March, well, the sports world will owe you a debt of gratitude. 

None of this COVID scheduling is ideal. Still, I’m Positive Paul, so I’m always looking for the silver lining.

In a traditional fall sports setting, the sports world is focused on football. Spectator-wise, football rules the high school sports universe. Volleyball is special in this region, as well. Oh, and girls soccer? So talented. 

In fact, the last time we had a traditional fall sports season, a hundred years ago in 2019, Clark County had state champions in football, volleyball, and girls soccer. 

So those sports grab a lot of attention.

Meanwhile, cross country runners just keep on keeping on, doing their thing. They don’t need much fanfare. After all, as they proudly proclaim, “Our sport is your sport’s punishment.” 

In other words, they are tough. 

Still, even the toughest of people need to feel they are loved at one time or another.

So here’s my salute to cross country runners, as well as those tennis players and golfers: Thank you for leading us back into a bit of normalcy.

To the runners, thank you for training all offseason, the longest offseason on record, to stay in shape.

You run for you. You run for your teammates. You run for your school. 

Oh, and now you are running for all of us in this community, too.

To the golfers and tennis players, thank you for accepting this February challenge. Sure, secretly, some of you might complain about the situation, the weather. Publicly, though, I know you will embrace the opportunity. 

After months of uncertainty, competition is about a week away, and the Southwest Washington sports scene is excited to support you.

This will be a sports season unlike one we have ever experienced. 

But after what we’ve been through since March, we are about to experience a sports season. 

It’s a start.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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