Winter has come and gone, and with it the comfort and warmth of indoor seating for our sporting activities. We say goodbye to our winter sports: basketball, wrestling, cheerleading, and swimming, as they wrap up their seasons by the end of February. Spring sports officially begin their practices on the 28 of February, but sports including track and field, softball, and baseball have been holding pre-season practices and workouts throughout February.
As the weather gets warmer we compensate by moving our athletics outside, and with that comes the accompanying seasonal guidelines for COVID-19. These safety measures are developed at the district level, relayed to the Franklin community and enforced by Franklin High School’s Athletic Director, Matt York. Regardless of any new rules or policies that are passed down from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, The Oregon Health Authority, or the Oregon School Activities Association, York says the key is for everyone (administrators, staff, coaches, parents, spectators, and athletes) to do their part to protect sports. “If the policy is we all wear masks, we all do it. If the policy is social distancing, we all do it. If we are sick, we stay home,” says York. “We all have a part in owning the health and safety of each other, and for the teams we play on.”
Because of the confusion and stress of the year, Dana Miller, French teacher and head coach of the women’s tennis team, encourages students to participate in athletics because, “Participating in any sport at this moment in time gives us a sense of much needed normalcy to our lives.” Miller is excited to get the 2022 season underway, and looks forward to reconnecting with seasoned players, as well as meeting new team members. “Practicing and improving our game is always the [number one] goal,” she states.
After his number one priority of safety for his athletes, golf coach Tim Itami says what he wants for his season is for his athletes to have a great time, practice hard, and to have good experiences with their teammates. Head baseball coach Andrew Berger has a slightly different mindset when it comes to goals for his season and says that his team is looking to get back into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The 2021 season saw the baseball team through seven wins to nine losses, but Berger thinks with the return of seven starters alongside a senior transfer and fresh underclassmen players, the Lightning should be in the mix for a playoff spot in may.
Rob Jamieson, math teacher at Franklin High School and track coach for the Lightning, also has objectives for his season. He works on supporting his athletes with their personal aspirations and tries to focus on setting more process oriented goals like working hard, staying focused, or being engaged in a race. “I try to get student athletes to think about their mentality when they’re going into competitions,” says Jamieson. “Some people’s goal might be to PR, but even then [..] you’re not going to always have a personal record, right? And what happens when you don’t, you might still have a really great performance. So you don’t want to be overly obsessed with the times or the mark. Because there’s so many other variables at play.”
Due to the shortened season last year, track athletes only were able to participate in a limited amount of meets and invites. Because of this, sophomores and juniors haven’t experienced a full track season; this year the season will be longer and open to more opportunities for competition. Despite the short season, Jamieson hopes last year’s record of success will translate to the 2022 season, which will be dependent on the dedication and hard work of the strong athletes participating this year.
Coaching alongside Jamieson and Jacob Michaels, many of the other track and field coaches are Franklin staff this year including Ashley Fanning, Karen Bowheart, Kilsi Naane, and newcomer Kyle Hunt. Hunt will be joining the coaching staff as a pole vault coach. Despite his lack of experience with pole vault, Jamieson is confident that having someone who teaches gym and weight training and who has an awareness and ability to learn about the body will be beneficial in teaching pole vault.
It is not just coaches who encourage participation in a spring sport, York is hoping for the participation numbers to match the turnout of previous years, for all those athletes to commit to a high level of excellence in their sports, life lessons to be learned, and for everyone to have fun this spring. “I hope for a lot knowing that sport has so much to give us,” says York, including the opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime.