The Canby Cougar Dance Team will not get a chance at a sixth straight state title this year. Not because they’re not good enough; sadly, it’s because the 2020 OSAA Dance/Drill State Championships were canceled Thursday in the wake of rising fears over the coronavirus outbreak and new rules by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown banning large gatherings statewide.
“As this unprecedented public health emergency continues to evolve, we believe that the responsibility to our member schools and communities regarding the health and safety of participants remains our highest priority,” said OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber.
The OSAA says it will work with their ticketing partners to ensure those who purchased tickets for future sessions are reimbursed.
The Canby dancers were — of course — crushed by the news that their quest for No. 6 was over before it even began.
“I have a daughter on the team who is pretty devastated right now,” one parent said on Facebook. “So much hard work.”
Several parents questioned why, especially for a performance-based sport like dance that does not require head-to-head competitions, the teams couldn’t simply video-record their routines for the judges, send them in and be scored remotely?
We reached out to ask the OSAA, but they said nothing of this sort has been or is being discussed. Sadly, the event is simply canceled, period.
After receiving the heartbreaking news, head coach Jennifer Chaffee said the dance team chose to gather for their regularly scheduled practice on Thursday night. (Note: This was before Gov. Kate Brown had ordered all schools closed and before the OSAA had followed her lead in suspending all activities for spring sports.)
Chaffee said the team sat in a circle around one of the props that would have been used in their show performance, made to look like a large tree from a desolate landscape.
“Together, we processed our sadness, frustration, and anger at what we lost,” Coach Chaffee said. “We talked about grieving the loss, and we cried together. Then, we shared our favorite memories from the year and the stories just poured in. Almost every memory brought smiles and laughter to a room full of grieving souls. We cried. We laughed. We cried some more and talked about what would help us feel closure on our season.”
When they left the gym, parents surprised the team in the lobby with a standing ovation and ice cream. Proving that they understand the age-old truth: there is no disappointment in life, however daunting, that can’t be made at least a tiny bit better with ice cream.
“It was a beautiful evening, and in the midst of our sadness and grief, you could feel the love of a family, an amazing dance family that chooses to celebrate the amazing memories we have made over our 9 month season,” Coach Chaffee said. “Thank you, parents. Thank you, dancers. We love you all and celebrate you.”
All spring sports, which had been set to begin this week, are suspended through March 31. All practices and contests are canceled.