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Coach Jaime Rivera makes clear to his Eagle team the need for maintain social distancing, wearing masks and taking other anti-virus precautions, while at practice and all other times. 

Pass the ball but not the virus.

Those two critical concepts sum up the first optional practice for Hood River Valley High School’s boys’ soccer team, July 9 at Westside Elementary Field.

Assistant coach Kenny Bresnahan called out, “Let’s work on good passes. I want to concentrate on my pass, not lazy, but every pass a good pass.”

About 20 pairs of Eagle players moved backwards and forwards, making quick steps.

“Look at this, isn’t this cool!” said head coach Jaime Rivera, watching dozens of athletes work out together for the first time in months.

In another conditioning drill, players run across the field and back as a group. 

“Run down and all walk back together!” Breshahan says. “Let’s go. We’re sprinting! First one is 80 percent, second one is 90 percent and the last one is 100 percent!”

Junior Dubon said of the new, uncertain season, “I think the guys are ready for it.” (Practices and games will depend on how school districts reopen for classes and activities this fall.)

“We’re ready to do something this year. It’s going to be a good year,” said Dubon, who suffered an injury mid-season in 2019-20. “I feel better than ever. This break really helped me. I did a lot in training, personally. It made me a better player, I worked on footwork and technical stuff, on my own.”

Summer training prepares student-athletes for the rigors of the upcoming season but the COVID-19 situation has caused teams to make some adjustments.

Rivera said, “We’re following the same schedule, but no moratorium week this year, no dead week. That means we’ll be able to train through the summer. Normally we start mid-July, so we’re starting a little sooner than usual but we haven’t been able to practice since March."

During a break, Rivera reminded the players of what he called “the four pillars of fighting this virus”: 

“One, wear a mask. Anytime we’re out in public. The top doctors, that’s what they’re saying, the top people who know what’s up: ‘Wear that mask.’

“Two, wash your hands, and use sanitizer, any time you feel your hands might have too much stuff, use hand sanitizer,” Rivera said.

“Third, distancing. That, coupled with the mask, research shows that there is minimal opportunity to pass on the virus if we wear our mask. I’m protecting you and you’re protecting me. Its a community effort.

“Four, if you have any symptoms, stay home.”

Using masks, sanitizing hands, physical distancing and watching out for symptoms “are now embedded into our routine,” Rivera said. 

Rivera also told his players, “Let’s help our state reopen by following those rules. That’s how we’re going to do our part. I know Oregon can do it.”

Rivera said via email, “Like most of us, these young men have been isolated last few months and we’d be lying to ourselves if we said our mental health and emotional well being have not been impacted.

“Being together, showing solidarity and getting some much needed exercise are good steps towards being mentally and emotionally strong,” Rivera said. “We preach that facing adversity makes us stronger, that challenging moments present us the chance to come up with solutions; and never has it been more important to live by.”

Summer training prepares our student-athletes for the rigors of the upcoming season but the COVID 19 situation has caused us to make some adjustments. Using masks, sanitizing hands, physical distancing and watching out for symptoms are now embedded into our routines.

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