Monday was the first official day for high school fall sports practices, and by Wednesday, smoke forced teams to go inside.
“Oh, it’s been every year,” said Mountain View High defensive end for the football team, Elijah Clason. “Every year, but we are pretty used to it. Nothing new. Just prefer to be outside.”
With the smoke rolling through Central Oregon, teams on the high desert were forced to practice indoors.
For the players, smoke this time of year is the norm, but head Mountain View head football coach Brian Crum says this wasn’t always the case.
“You know it is year 28 for me total and 16 here in Central Oregon,” said Crum. “Up until about 2018, we never did this. You never even had to think about it.”
The Oregon Schools Activities Association has air quality guidelines created in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority.
Those guidelines state that if the air quality index or AQI is at or above 150, all outdoor activities must be canceled or moved indoors.
Some programs, like the Madras boys’ soccer team, decided to call off practice altogether, but others, like the Bend Lava Bear and the Mountain View Cougar football programs, chose to keep practice going.
“We are moving 100 kids into two gymnasiums, but we have done it before, and our kids are used to it,” said Crum. “So, you stay up, you don’t go to the ground and tackle, but you can be in helmets and shoulder pads on a day like this and still get a lot done.”
“You know, Crum makes it really easy for us, you know, it’s honestly the exact same, just indoors.” said wide receiver Kaden Alayan. “I mean, no AC inside, but we make it work.”
The Cougar football program is focused on what they can control, and right now, that is practicing indoors, getting ready for the upcoming season.
“Our coaching staff knows we are going to make the best of whatever we have,” Crum said. “Our kids know that it is about us. It is not about the elements. It is not about the outside world that we can’t control. Whatever situation that we have to be in, that is safe for our players. Then we are going to make the most of it.”