AROUND OREGON: Oregon high school athletes moving to Idaho to compete

Quinten Ramsey, who excelled as a defensive back and wide receiver at Yamhill-Carlton High School, is moving to Idaho to compete in fall football. (Marcus Larson/News-Register)

YAMHILL – In early August, Quinten Ramsey and his stepsister, Ali Barnett, anxiously awaited the Oregon School Activities Association’s (OSAA) decision on the upcoming 2020/21 sports seasons. The two were preparing for their senior seasons at Yamhill-Carlton High School when the hammer fell: Oregon fall sports were postponed to 2021.

The OSAA’s final recommendation for sports during the COVID-19 pandemic effectively cemented the Barnett and Ramsey family’s future plans.

With a future college athletic scholarship on the line, Ramsey decided to take his talents to Idaho. An all-conference defensive back and special teamer in 2018, he joined his family in their exodus from Oregon’s restrictions on prep sports.

“We knew if the OSAA’s guidelines for school and sports were changing this fall, then we would move to Idaho. We wanted a chance to participate in in-person learning and fall sports,” explained Ramsey.

Ali said the decision proved easier because of her family’s purchase of property in Idaho in May. While the Barnetts and Ramsey would’ve initially waited to move until both students’ graduation, the changeup in athletics sped along the transition, she said.

“With no sports this fall, we wanted to go sooner,” noted Ali.

Both Ramsey and Ali were three-sport athletes for the Tigers – Ramsey in football, basketball and track and field and Ali in volleyball, cheerleading and softball.

Ramsey’s athletic ability as a multi-sport athlete drew interest from Southern Virginia University. Ramsey’s former basketball coach, Heather Roberts, previously led the Knights women’s basketball program from 2014 to 2018.

Roberts notified Southern Virginia’s football coaching staff of Ramsey’s talent, and the school’s position coaches quickly added him to a recruiting list.

While the opportunity to play collegiately remains a powerful motivator for Ramsey, concluding his high school career on his own terms is also important, he said.

“Football is a big part of my life. I’ve played since I was a kid – when I was competing in Pop Warner in Vancouver. I feel like if I want to progress in this sport – which has been a major impact on my life – then I need to join a team and school where I can compete,” observed Ramsey.

During his conversation with the News-Register, Ramsey said the family’s initial choice for a new school would be the St. Maries area of Idaho, 45 miles south of Coeur d’Alene.

Rebecca Barnett, Ramsey’s mother and Ali’s stepmother, said the entire family discussed the possibility of moving. The kids were given a major vote in the process, she added, and the idea of leaving Y-C proved easier for Ali than Ramsey.

Ramsey agreed, saying, “I feel like it’s going to be a little hard. I’ve made some close bonds with people. It’s difficult to leave people who I’ve grown up around, people who wouldn’t judge me for leaving my comfort zone.”

After seven years in the community, Ramsey earned wide respect from his peers and coaches. His high school football coach, Brennon Mossholder, continually gave his family support in their decision to move to St. Maries, Ramsey noted.

Ali approached the move from an analytical perspective, explaining, “We would’ve had to say good-bye to all our friends next year when we go to college, so this is just making it happen a little sooner.”

While Ali admitted feeling torn leaving her Y-C friends, she’s “excited to meet new people in Idaho.”

Another challenging obstacle to overcome remains the separation of Ramsey from his biological dad, Kevin, who lives in Portland. “It’s difficult for him to travel so far away from his dad, who he has a very good relationship with,” said Rebecca.

Kevin’s background in football still inspires him, said Ramsey, and solidified his decision to play fall football this year.

The family remains hopeful for a scholarship to materialize from Southern Virginia’s interest in Ramsey, but they aren’t ruling out colleges in Idaho, either.

Leaving Oregon never stood as the family’s top choice, Rebecca clarified, but the state’s governance and restrictions forced their hands.

“It’s very hard for us to leave the area. I had everything planned for their senior years – cutting it short was tough for me. Going to a new school, especially for their senior years, won’t be easy,” she said.

Rebecca added, “I’m happy that the OSAA is doing something for fall sports, but it’s still an uncertainty. I’m very disappointed with the governor’s decision – it’s clearly affecting the kids.”

The variance in sports participation offered to neighboring states like Oregon and Idaho has also emphasized the financial discrepancy among families, Rebecca said. “We’re seeing who is affected in the haves and have-nots – not every family can afford to pay for club teams just so their kids can have an opportunity to play,” she noted.

Ramsey and Ali aren’t ruling out a return to Y-C following the fall sports season in Idaho. Once Ramsey has completed his senior campaign of football and Ali her final year of volleyball, the family would be amenable to venturing back to Oregon.

“It’s a strong possibility for us,” said Ramsey.

Ali’s return would likely prove contingent on a Tigers’ softball season, as she explained, “Softball is important to me. If it’s played next spring I’d be open to going back; if not, I’ll stay in Idaho.”

This story is published as part of a state collaborative of newsrooms to share Oregon coverage. The Enterprise is part of the collaborative.

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