Oregon coaches rally together for return of sports

VALE – Over 100 high school Oregon coaches of various sports chose to give up an evening and join together on a Zoom on call on Tuesday, November 17 to discuss options on returning student athletes back to play.

The Oregon group joins a growing list of high school coaches from Washington and California in a consortium labeled the West Coast Coaching Alliance. The newly formed alliance consists of three states currently not playing high school sports due to COVID-19. Although the call was scheduled weeks ahead, those on the call Tuesday night were hit with an announcement the following morning of a shutdown of all indoor athletic activities issued through an executive order by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

“This whole movement is all about the kids,” said Jimmy Joyce, head football coach of Canby High School. “The pandemic is real, but we need to get involved. The athletes we coach every day need representation, need a voice.”

Formed just a few weeks ago, the West Coach Coaching Alliance now lists over 700 coaches across the three states and recently debuted a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WestCoastCoachingAlliance). The group is also active on Twitter (@WCCoachAlliance).

Throughout the 90-minute call, Joyce and other coaches continually reminded those on the call the seriousness of COVID-19, but also presented data showing athletic events can occur with proper precautions. Currently, 35 states made the decision to go forward with high school sports, tracking athletes and coaches testing positive and also tracking hospitalizations related to the disease. Those in the call were also reminded both college and professional sports are taking place.

“Just last week, we had over 175 Division I games played with no hospitalizations reported,” said Coach Dan Lever, Tualatin’s head football coach.

The Oregon coaches were joined on the call from representative coaches from Washington and California. These coaches briefed their Oregon counterparts on steps occurring to contact government officials on the safety of getting athletes back to action during this time.

Throughout the call, numerous coaches spoke of similar incidents-students dropping out or disappearing during this time, depression setting in among students and student athletes expressing hopelessness over the current situation.

Oregon coaches also expressed concern over the shutdown of high school sports causing harm to those most needing the outlet.

“For some of these kids, you are taking away their inspiration and many times, the only things these kids have,” said Lever, referring to athletics. “For some kids, sports is the only thing keeping them in school and performing.”

The group agreed to continue to meet and planned further action in getting the word out to additional coaches across the state. The group also agreed parents and student athletes were needed in the discussion and the need to return to sporting action.