EAGLE POINT, Ore. — The news came hard and fast to Eagle Point football players: their first game in nearly a year and a half was canceled. All the waiting and following health guidelines were supposed to grant them a football game on March 5, but now it's not looking like a reality.
It's a harsh reminder of the world we live in as the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live over the course of the last year. It's the hidden fragility of life we knew was there, but for the most part, ignored.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi often commented on the similarities between football and life. Both require perseverance, hard work and sacrifice. For many high school athletes, the sacrifice of forgoing their normal seasons cost them plenty as the United States struggled to control the pandemic's effect within its borders.
Senior seasons were in jeopardy of never being played. The kind of closure that comes with knowing you've played your last game and gave it everything you could, had to be attributed to a game played in 2019.
But then the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor's Office said sports could return in shortened seasons this spring. Friday nights would once again be lit up by the lights of football fields around Oregon, including Eagle Point. But once again, a reminder of how fragile it all is, although this is a reality the Eagles prepared for this spring.
"Players know, be flexible," Eagle Point head coach Erik Johnson said. "I don't know what's going to happen from day-to-day or week-to-week like just be flexible and if something happens we'll figure it out. We're just going to control what we can and practice and any way we can get on the field we'll take it."
For some seniors, they're understandably disappointed they probably won't be playing football this Friday, while so many other high schools do. But they're finding the best in an unfortunate situation.
"Honestly it's just having fun out here," senior Lucas Meerten said. "Making bonds with my brothers out here it's always fun at practice, just having a good time whether or not we get the game or not. Like next week's not always promised so make what we have good."
Nothing is ever promised in this life, especially not football games in a pandemic. But the players will continue to hold onto hope and be ready for when they finally get the chance to play again on a Friday night.