Time Out with Coach Little: The Longest Season

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(With more than 55 years as an athlete, coach, official, parent and spectator, I’ve gained some insights and perspectives regarding athletics. In this weekly column, I share what I’ve learned about sports from these multiple points of view.)

The Longest Season

All three Siuslaw and Mapleton sport seasons are usually of similar length in days, weeks and months.  They are divided by pre-season practices, non-league tune up contests, league contests and, if good enough, oost-season state competitions for teams or individuals.

Although similar in length of time, the winter season seems much longer.

Why?

The first thing involves school holiday breaks. While many of the students at Siuslaw and Mapleton are taking Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, winter athletes, including cheerleaders, are in the gym practicing.

There are tournaments during the holidays as well.

I remember driving down I-5 to Grants Pass during Christmas break for a girls basketball tournament. During another break, we were in Philomath for a boys basketball tournament.

These are scheduled to tune up for league games, which start soon after the return to school in January.

The second factor in making winter seem like the longest sports season is darkness. Most, if not all, winter athletes return to their homes in the dark. (The exception would be Siuslaw football players for 45 years, Lol).

Also, the bus trips are longer. It takes more time to play what sometimes can be three basketball games at one gym for tournaments. Sitting either before or after you play can be fatiguing. Meanwhile, some student athletes do homework in the stands. This is necessary as school continues for all students.

There are times when my own children borrowed Dad’s flashlight to read required textbook assignments while on the bus. In 1976, due to a shortage of girls at Spray High School for a basketball team, I joined the John Day Referee Association. I refereed throughout college as a way to pay my bills.

However, I declined my first assignment because of the time I would have spent for very little pay. I was to drive to John Day, then ride with other officials to Ukiah and work the first frosh game, then stay the JV and varsity games before riding back with the other officials to John Day — and then, finally, home.

Thirteen hours for $15.

I said no, thanks.

Three times that season officials failed to show up to work Spray games; I worked all three games. When the time came for coaches to elect officials for league play-offs I was selected.

The winter sports season can seem longer than fall or spring. If you are successful as an individual or a team, you could be playing as late as March.

Next week, I will talk about the longest year for three sport athletes. I may include a fours-port athlete, too.

Needless to say, parents can also have a long year if they’re following an athlete.


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