Ty Kraft’s first season as Canby High School’s new softball coach is over before it even began.
Kraft, like the other spring sports coaches and athletes, had hoped that the Oregon School Activities Association, or OSAA, would find some way to salvage a spring season despite the growing pandemic — perhaps by abbreviating the season and pushing it further into the summer.
When the expected became inevitable, and the OSAA announced last week that all activities and championships would be canceled, Kraft admitted he and the other coaches were “extremely disappointed.”
“My first thought was how this was going to impact our seniors,” Kraft said. “The senior group was doing extremely well leading the younger players and we could feel their excitement for this season.”
Kraft had jumped headfirst into his new role well before the season would have officially started, and he had a good sense of how the team was going to shape up. He said his players were all excited for the season and “playing at a very high level” leading into their first scheduled game.
“I personally was excited to see what this team was capable of doing this year,” he said. “I truly believe we were going to surprise people in our league and throughout the entire state this season.”
When asked by the Canby Now Podcast what he has communicated to the team in the wake of the huge disappointment that they’re all feeling, he said he has tried to put things in perspective.
“I want our girls to take this situation we are in and apply it to life after the pandemic,” he said. “I want them to remember that we never know what tomorrow has in store for us. So, we need to live each day with great enthusiasm and do our best at whatever it is (sports, school, how we treat our parents, what kind of friend we are, what type of employee we are). Never take any of it for granted.”
He has encouraged his non-senior players to think of what they want out of softball in the future, and to visualize how to use this downtime to get there.
“Does my desire match what I am willing to sacrifice?” Kraft has told his athletes to ask themselves. “If it doesn’t, then we will need to re-evaluate our desires.”
Despite the crushing disappointment he feels for the team’s seniors, he’s hopeful for the future of the Canby Cougar softball program. His excitement remains high.
“We have so much young talent that plays summer softball, that taking this year off might have just made our strength of position in our league even that much better,” he said. “That is something to be excited for in the future.”
The team has loaned gear to players to do their workouts at home, he said the staff has also expressed a willingness to do “virtual coaching lessons” for those who want feedback or assistance.
Photo of senior shortstop Nicole Michelson by Derek Wiley.