Players congregated on the bleachers of Camas High School’s Cardon Field on Monday, strapping on football pads and helmets while discussing the first day of the new semester. This didn’t look much different than the off-and-on pod workouts the Papermaker football team has had over a nearly year-long sports hiatus.
Only this time, as the Papermakers stepped onto the field and ran through warmups led by quarterback Jake Blair and lineman Robert Silva, there was hope. Hope that sports, real competition, was on the horizon.
Season 1, composed of most of the traditional fall sports, officially began Monday as teams across Clark County started practices. Boys tennis, boys golf and cross country will begin competition next week. Higher risk sports — football, volleyball and girls soccer — await the Feb. 15 COVID-19 metrics to determine if they can start games.
“We have to be hopeful,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said. “That’s our job as coaches.”
While tennis teams were forced indoors by the rain that swept the area Monday, golfers and cross country runners could be spotted again on the ways — both fair and road — throughout Clark County. Lighted fields had the familiar, but perhaps forgotten, sounds of a pad clashing against another or a cleat striking the synthetic leather casing of a soccer ball.
In Camas, the reigning 4A state football champions took the field in an official capacity for the first time since they toppled Bothell in the 4A State Championship on Dec. 7, 2019 — a span of 422 days.
“Any time we get the go-ahead to come out here, it’s amazing,” Silva said .”I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world.
Camas will not get to defend its state title this season; the WIAA canceled state championships. Schedules have yet to be released, but local athletic directors said they hope to crown league champions with the potential of some sort of regional culminating event depending on the sport.
Despite the uncertainty, there’s plenty of reason to be motivated for the sports’ return.
“It’s really exciting just knowing we finally get to play, finally get to have a season after waiting all this time,” said Blair, an Oregon State football commit.
Mountain View’s girls soccer team was one of the last teams in Clark County to take the field Monday. At 8 p.m. after temperature checks at the gates of Union High School’s field, the Thunder season began.
Senior defender Lauren Delargy welcomed the excitement of the official beginning — the team has been able to practice off-and-on throughout the pandemic — she was still guarded about competition returning this month.
“I think I’m hopeful but at the same time, I’m not sure it’s going to happen,” she said. “This year has just been so crazy. … So I’m hopeful that there will be a season but still mindful that it might not happen.”
Schedules for boys golf, boys tennis and cross country are expected to be released soon. Higher-risk sports will closely monitor the Southwest Region’s COVID-19 metrics for the Feb. 15 update. If three of the four metrics under Washington’s “Stay Healthy” plan are met, competition could begin immediately for volleyball, girls soccer and football.