Practices, games postponed in wake of fires

14 games rescheduled, two canceled

As fires descended upon Oak Park and surrounding areas, Oak Park High School’s athletics program canceled or rescheduled all games as its facilities were being cleaned of ash and other potentially harmful substances.

Winter sports, such as boys’ and girls’ basketball as well as boys’ and girls’ soccer, were the most impacted by the fires, in terms of practice and game time.

According to Co-Athletic Director Tim Chevalier, the school’s turf and grass fields were cleared Nov. 24, while the gym was cleared Nov. 26. Dec. 3 was the first day that boys’ and girls’ basketball were able to play in their own gym.

“Numerous practices were canceled or relocated and 14 games or matches were postponed. Of the 14 games or matches postponed, 12 have been rescheduled with only Malibu girls’ soccer not being able to be rescheduled at this point,” Chevalier wrote.

When marching band competed in the Moorpark High School Battle of the Bands Nov. 10, many members were unable to attend due to evacuations.

“It was pretty surreal because a lot of people, around ten or so, were not able to come. It wasn’t our full band and it didn’t feel exactly right, so it was definitely different than anything we’ve done before, but it was still nice to be able to go at all,” sophomore Liam Case said.

Cheer’s practices, centered around preparations for the upcoming rally, were canceled for almost three weeks, according to senior and varsity cheer captain Emme Creager. Since then, the team has been focusing on practicing for basketball games.

“The fires were addressed in the team group chats as early as while it was happening, and the team really came together — even though we weren’t physically with each other — by making sure everyone was OK and sending nice thoughts,” Creager said.

Multiple schools and a sports gymnasium in the area offered their facilities to the teams. According to junior and girls’ soccer team member Paige Lewis, the team enjoyed the extra training (having used “an outdoor field in Camarillo and an indoor facility in Westlake”) but missed practicing on their turf.

“[It’s] for sure very different from going into the season last year,” Lewis wrote. “For example, [during] one of the first home games it smelled like fire which made it slightly challenging to play, but this experience as a team has brought us closer.”