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Sandy High teams finish season without home pool posted on 03/01/2020

Last May, the Sandy Pool closed its doors as the City of Sandy looked to refine its vision for the pool, part of a larger Sandy Community Campus project. That closure left the Sandy High School (SHS) swim and water polo teams without a home pool, but did not stop them from competing this winter.

The two teams, which wrapped up their seasons last month, practiced at an outdoor pool at Mount Hood Community College (MHCC) and held a number of “home” games at other schools, including Parkrose and Barlow. That lead to more travel for the teams and the athletes dealing with colder temperatures during practice times.

“I’m sure that the coaches and kids would say that in a lot of ways it was more difficult,” said Garet Luebbert, SHS Athletic Director. “They did okay; better than last year.”

Mountain resident Gretchen McAbery, who had two children, Emma and Griffin, on both teams this year, noted the practice pool was heated, but that many parents bought their kids parkas to stay warm between the locker room and the pool, adding that the parents were concerned about the situation.

“We don’t like that the kids are having to swim outside,” Gretchen said. “The fall wasn’t bad, being outside was actually a beautiful thing.”

Emma, a senior who joined the water polo team her sophomore year and the swim team her junior year, noted a number of differences from past seasons, including getting home later due to the travel and dealing with the rain during some practices, plus a practice that was cancelled due to the low temperature. Despite the challenges, she added that the situation might have provided advantages, such as the practice pool having two deep ends and athletes treading water the entire time, but also disadvantages, such as younger players not learning how to stay in control.

“I don’t think we were behind (other teams),” Emma said, adding that it was disappointing to have “Senior Nights” (a designated home match for sports teams that typically offers a great deal of support from friends, family and more) located in other communities.

Griffin, a junior who has done water polo all three years in high school and joined the swim team for his sophomore year, added the locker room situation was not ideal, as most team members brought their stuff outside with them for safekeeping. That led to occasions where their belongings got wet from the rain.

Despite the challenges, Griffin plans on participating next year even if the practice situation remains the same.

“You’d have to cut my legs off not to do water polo,” he said.

Luebbert noted that he expects to move forward with an agreement with MHCC for next season, while making sure they have “something to fall back on” and that they will watch Sandy’s decisions with their pool “very closely.”

“(Our parents’) voice and their concern for continuing strong aquatic sports needs to be heard at the city level,” he said, adding that SHS enjoys a strong water sports community that sticks together and has done a lot to keep the sports alive.

Emma, who will go to the Cascades Campus of Oregon State University this fall, noted she wants the programs to continue for her friends who are sophomores and freshmen.

“I want them to continue to play,” she said. “I want people to still have those opportunities.”

By Garth Guibord/MT

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