Football among the sports that are practicing, and cross country runners are adapting to wearing masks
WASHOUGAL — The traditional first day of practice for fall sports never happens in the fall anyway. It’s always in August. So this year, the fall sports season begins in winter.
No big deal, right?
No matter the day on the calendar, though, the first day of anything in sports is usually special.
Everybody is undefeated. There is hope. Plenty of energy.
That did not change now that fall sports practice started on Feb. 1.
Granted, there are not too many rainy, breezy, 50-degree days in August. But competition is competition and teamwork is teamwork, and being together to train, to practice, well, it means something after 11 months of uncertainty.
Want something really different, though? Check out the goal of Jamie Maas, a freshman cross country runner at Washougal.
“To make it through all my races with my mask on,” Maas said. “We get disqualified if we take it off. Hopefully, get a PR (personal record) by the end of the season.”
Now THAT is a first.
But if it means training together, if it means competing, athletes will wear the masks.
At least cross country runners, along with golfers and tennis players, know they will have a season beginning next week.
Athletes in football, volleyball, girls soccer, and slowpitch softball also started practice on Monday — with no guarantee of any games.
“I definitely think we’re going to get some games in,” said Washougal senior football player Peter Boylan.
The hope is for Southwest Washington to be granted Phase 2 status in the state’s path to recovery scenario. The high- and moderate-risk sports can have games under Phase 2.
Until then, football, volleyball, soccer, and softball athletes will prepare as if it is going to happen.
“It means a lot to be back out here with the boys, doing everything we can to get ready for the season,” Boylan said.
His coach is also optimistic.
“We’ll be playing,” Washougal football coach David Hajek predicted.
Hey, the governor did change requirements to move into Phase 2 just a couple weeks after implementing the latest plan, so maybe he does it again? Or maybe the region qualifies with whatever requirements are necessary on a given week?
That is what has athletes from all over Clark County hoping there could be some season for most of the fall sports. (Girls swimming did not start practice this week, but there is hope for an abbreviated season later this school year.)
At Washougal, all cross country runners had their temperatures checked before practice started on Monday. The athletes distanced themselves during a brief team meeting in the bleachers. Runners have been working out on their own throughout the pandemic.
“Definitely harder without any teammates,” freshman Elle Thomas said. “We’ve been trying our best. … It will be fun to get out with some teammates and friends.”
Savea Mansfield, a junior cross country runner, said this day was not just special for her sport.
“All sports are starting today,” she said. “I’m really excited for the 2021 season starting.”
That’s another change, calling it the 2021 season for the fall sports year in the 2020-21 academic year.
But that’s where we are, early in 2021, getting ready for the fall … naturally.
The biggest takeaway, though, is athletes are getting ready for something.
“It’s great for us to be on the field,” Hajek said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s rain, shine, or snow. We’re just happy to be on the field, trying to get a season in.”