Cougar athletic director discusses plan for sports in the near future

Photo by Austin Boltz.

Jim Martineau is in his 18th year as the women’s basketball coach at Clackamas Community College. He is the athletic director at Clackamas. In a year unlike any other, he has done his best to manage all sports and keep everyone as safe as possible. 

The Clackamas Print: Have winter sports been practicing, or meeting over Zoom?

Jim Martineau: We’ve been doing face to face with our sport classes since the start of winter term. So just basically three, four hours a week, not a lot. And, you know, some teams are doing, probably three days a week, some teams are doing two. The first two weeks of winter term we did a quarantine, return to campus quarantine. So, starting week three, I guess was when we started back doing some face to face.

TCP: What protocols have they been following?

Martineau: Same we did in the fall; we’ve got daily, our daily health checks, everybody’s on their app, on their phone, we’ve created that so they got to go in each morning and do their daily symptom check. When they arrive on campus we do a temperature check. They enter that information as well into their daily app, which our trainer and our coaches kind of monitor, and then obviously anybody who has symptoms stays home or if they get their temperatures too high, we send them home. 

TCP: Is there a plan for spring sports right now?

Martineau: There’s a plan for all sports. The outdoor sports will probably get a chance to play; everything right now is scheduled to start. We have schedules made up and it looks like most all of them are scheduled to start around spring break, so toward the end of March, is where everything’s kind of scheduled. But indoor sports right now in the state of Oregon, contact’s not allowed. So we’re not able to host basketball games or wrestling. If our county gets to a certain level we can, I think we can play volleyball games with masks on. So, the indoor sports are up in the air as far as in the state of Oregon. Outdoor sports, unless something gets a lot worse, we’ve got schedules in place, we’ve got travel protocol, so it looks like we’ll be able to do an abbreviated schedule with most of it starting right around spring break or right after spring break.

TCP: If Clackamas is able to apply for an exemption, will you be doing that?

Martineau: We meet tomorrow and talk to the rest of the athletic directors in Oregon so we do it as an entire group. Because obviously, we’d have to have somebody to play. But a lot will just depend on what the requirements are, what the cost is, as far as testing is concerned. You know, we have the ability to do some testing. The wrestling team is getting ready to take a trip to Idaho here in a couple weeks with testing protocol, leaving and returning. So they’ll be able to actually get some actual practice, and a competition in on the same trip here. But as far as hosting them in Oregon or actually having contact in practices in Oregon right now, we’re still not allowed for contact sports or basketball and wrestling. Volleyball can do stuff inside with masks. I think with our county dropping to high, they could actually host a competition, based on the county and state guidelines. But still a ways away from getting to host, I think, as a group, we’d like to put in an exemption, it’s just a lot is going to depend on what the requirements are. Three days a week of testing across 100 or 150 athletes, then all of a sudden it’s super expensive and we’re probably not going to be able to. So a lot of this depends on what they approved for us. So we don’t know right now.

TCP: Do you know if the exemptions will be decided sport by sport, or will it be everything?

Martineau: Right now we were able to play the low to moderate risk sports, without the exemption. Like we could be outside, you know, soccer and track and field and baseball, softball right now, without having to apply for the exemption, so the exemption would be the indoor contact sports and volleyball would probably be what we’d be applying for. We’d do it as a bulk group with the ability, obviously we’re looking at four sports, you know, wrestling and volleyball and men’s, women’s basketball for us, but a lot just depends on what the other schools are going to do. It doesn’t make any sense to get an exemption for basketball if we can’t go play anybody. 

TCP: If you guys did decide to get an exemption, would fall and winter sports have competitions in the spring? 

Martineau: Wrestling will be limited on what they’re going to do, if they get to do much, it’s going to be one or two trips to North Idaho, and if it’s still allowed and everything looks good in April, a trip back to Nationals. So they’re going to be very, very short on competition, one or two competitions outside of state right now. Obviously if we get the exemption then you know we could consider, do we host a couple more? Umpqua and SWOCC [Southwestern Oregon Community College] both have wrestling in our state, and we’d be looking to do something, so if we get the exemption we might be able to do stuff but, the National Tournament, as we speak, is still planned in mid April, and if we can have the proper testing and travel protocol in place, and everybody tests before they leave, and quarantines and tests on the way back then, I think we’ll, they would like to go, even without a ton of practice or competition. Rest of the sports right now, like basketball, if we get an exemption, we’d start playing right after spring break. So basically, everybody’s gonna play in April and May. The only sport that we may not have a ton of people participate in is cross country, because most of the cross country runners will just opt to do track because they’re pretty much in the same season. But the rest of them if we get a go, everybody’s kind of geared up and we’ve got schedules, and limited schedules, like basketball would be 12 to 15 games over a two month span. I think soccer is just six or seven games. Baseball, softball and track — we’re trying to get them more, because they didn’t have a season last year, either. That’s what we shut down last year right, obviously we didn’t get our basketball championships completed. But track and field and baseball didn’t play, I think softball might have got two or three games in before we shut down, so we’re trying to get softball baseball and track a little bit more. I think they’ll have ability to get them in because they’re outside, they’re not high risk contact sports. And if we have to, they can play, they can compete in masks, at least softball and baseball. Track is obviously up in the air with what they will do.

TCP: Are you able to tell me how many COVID cases have been in the athletics program as a whole?

Martineau: Yeah, I can’t speak to it and actually, I don’t know the number. They go from our athletic trainer to the COVID director on campus. I mean, in comparison to other universities and other athletic programs, we’ve done a great job. I’ve been really happy with what we’ve done and we’re not set up to do daily COVID testing, so we’re just basically going on temperature checks and symptom checks. Since we’ve been back, it’s been great. We’ve been back at it for basically four weeks, five weeks. So far so good and obviously if we get the exemption we’ll have the ability to test a little bit more, which obviously makes it safer as we go forward. You know, we’ll have to pick and choose, you know, obviously we can’t afford to test  200 athletes three days a week. There’s no way we can afford to do that and if that’s going to be the requirement then we obviously would opt out of the contact sports in Oregon. 

TCP: Will sophomore athletes be able to come back for another year?

Martineau: Our conference gave exemptions for all the sports. So, fall, winter and spring sports. The National Junior College gave exemptions for the wrestlers. You know, and all the four-year colleges gave exemptions for fall and winter. The DI’s and some of the four year schools haven’t talked about spring sport exemptions but for all of our kids, yeah, if they wanted to come back and participate again next year they would at our conference level for sure. A lot of them have been here, the sophomores, some of them are second year. Some of them were already the third year sophomore right now, that was a sophomore last year, and decided to come back like some of the softball players. So a lot of them will move on, but it’s going to be a log jam, you know, the high school seniors are going to have a hard time getting placed in colleges right now because of all the way up, you know some of the seniors in college in DI are going to stay at some of those sports and so some of our kids won’t have as many opportunities to transfer on because of the log jam so we’ll retain some of those because they don’t have a place to go. And then that means some of the high school kids that we would typically recruit, we wouldn’t have as many open spots at our level so it’s great for those kids to get that extra year but it does create a log jam, as they look to transfer on, it’ll take a couple years to kind of work its way out a little bit. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Riley Buerk