Athletic director weighs in on potential spring competitions

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Nathan Herde

Wildcat swimmers on the starting block.

Kate Walkup, Staff Writer

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At Linfield, student-athletes from all sports have been able to practice with their teammates and coaches. With spring just around the corner, Division III athletics across the country are looking to begin competition again. 

Linfield Athletic Director Garry Killgore shared some of his knowledge regarding the expected return of competition in the spring. “I’m hopeful that we can get something so that we can still have a good season. It’ll just take a little bit,” Killgore said.

Since Oregon Governor Kate Brown tightened COVID-19 restrictions for the two weeks around Thanksgiving, Linfield athletes were forced to end practices earlier than expected before students traveled home for the holidays.

“I want nothing more than to see the athletes compete,” Killgore said. “That’s why I do this. I don’t do this to sit in front of a computer and look at numbers all the time.” As the fall semester comes to an end, Killgore is anxiously awaiting the possibility of being able to watch student-athletes compete come spring semester. However, Linfield must continue to keep the number of positive COVID cases low.

The health and safety of student-athletes remains the athletic department’s top priority as they continue to find a way for competition to be possible. “We cannot put the athletes in harm’s way,” Killgore said. “We’re all in this together, and if we can do it that way, we can come out of it sooner rather than later.”

Linfield coaches have been doing everything they can to move the athletes’ seasons along, but with new regulations released by the Oregon Health Authority each week, uncertainties remain.

“I’m really optimistic with the vaccinations that could come out,” Killgore said. If COVID vaccines are made available within the next few months, then the likelihood of sports happening in the spring could be much greater.

Sports that traditionally play in the spring, such as softball, baseball, tennis, lacrosse and track, will get priority over the others, given that their season was cut short after the first wave of COVID in the spring. 

Since the NCAA is granting all athletes another year of eligibility, it raises the question of whether or not Linfield student-athletes will return for another season.

“There will definitely be some people who come back no matter what, and there will be some who it’s going to be a difficult decision about what they want to be able to do,” said Killgore. “I know it would be really hard to walk away from another year of collegiate athletics for a lot of people.”