While most of Idaho’s high school athletes are bound to the sidelines, it’s business as usual for a few others.
But they may be participating on borrowed time.
The Idaho High School Activities Association announced Monday that all of the state’s high school sports that are sanctioned by the governing body are suspended from holding meetings, practices, games and events through at least April 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That means baseball, softball, tennis, track and field and golf are on hold until further notice.
But sports like rodeo, lacrosse, club soccer, club volleyball and club swimming, which aren’t governed by the IHSAA, may continue their seasons.
That’s the plan for local cowboys and cowgirls.
Kelly Duffin, chairman of the Portneuf Rodeo Committee and adviser for the Highland/Poky/Century Rodeo Club, said District 4 still plans to hold its first rodeo of the high school season on April 10 and 11 at the Bannock County Event Center in Pocatello.
Most competitors practice at their own facilities, Duffin said, and with the first scheduled competition more than three weeks away, the hope is that the local effects of coronavirus subside and don’t affect scheduled competitions.
“Rodeos are a little different. We’re not out on top of each other. There’s no contact in the sport between one person to another,” Duffin said. “It’s obviously something we’re going to watch and pay close attention to what’s taking place in the world.”
One thing that could alter those plans? Local government.
The Bannock County Event Center, which is operated by Bannock County, is scheduled to host District 4 rodeos on April 10-11 and April 17-18. The location remains open for now, but that situation — like many others — is fluid.
Bannock County Commissioner Terrel Tovey said conversations will be ongoing, but no decisions have been made regarding the scheduled high school rodeos.
If Pocatello is no longer an option, District 4 could move its competitions elsewhere, Duffin said.
American Falls and Blackfoot are scheduled to host the last four District 4 rodeos of the season, in late April and early May. Pocatello-scheduled events could move there, and vice versa, if normally-used facilities become unavailable.
But with so much time before the season’s first rodeo, it’s hard to know what’s ahead.
“We just don’t know where this is headed,” Duffin said. “I hate being pessimistic. ... We’re hoping to continue. We’ve got a lot of talented kids coming back.”
Some local clubs, like the Portneuf Valley Swim Team, didn’t have to make a decision.
The club practices at Pocatello’s Community Recreation Center, which closed for three weeks on Saturday. It held its lone home meet of the season at Idaho State University’s Reed Gym, which is closing Wednesday until at least March 30.
On Tuesday, USA Swimming canceled all sanctioned events through April 30. The club is a member team of USA Swimming.
Other teams got ahead of their leagues and suspended their seasons.
The Pocatello Lacrosse Club decided to suspend its season last Thursday, a day before Idaho’s first case of COVID-19 was reported.
Two days later, the Idaho High School Lacrosse League suspended the season until further notice.
“We felt like we need to do our part and try to stop this thing,” Pocatello Lacrosse Club President Aaron Herdt said. “We felt like it’s the right thing to do for our community.”
CGA Academy Soccer Club in Pocatello made the decision last Friday to suspend its season until March 29. The same day, the Idaho Youth Soccer Association suspended all league games through March 30, but “team practices may continue and will be at the discretion of the clubs themselves,” according to the league’s website.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re doing our part to act responsibly and take the precautions not to spread a potentially life-altering disease,” CGA Academy Director of Coaching and CFO Rocky Rhoads said. “That’s all we’re trying to do is be responsible in our decision-making.”