GREAT FALLS -- One of the summer's most social events surrounding athletics has been canceled.
Don Olsen, the director of the Montana Coaches Association, confirmed to MTN Sports on Saturday that the 53rd annual MCA multi-sports clinic must be canceled after the Cascade City-County Health Department issued a public health order that limits group gatherings in Cascade County to 250 people at indoor events.
The event was to be held July 29-31 at Great Falls CMR High School.
"The 2020 MCA Coaches clinic has been CANCELLED AS OF 7-11," a statement read on the MCA website. "MCA will be issuing refunds for clinic registration over the next few weeks. While we are extremely disappointed, we, as a board, believe that this is the direction we need to go based on new guidelines."
The MCA multi-sports clinic, often referred to simply as the coaches clinic, is held each summer in late July or early August, bringing in coaches from across Montana for a weekend of learning and development. According to the MCA website, Montana's clinic is "one of the last all-sport clinics in the country, providing professional development for coaches in 10 MHSA sanctioned sports."
Planning for this year's clinic had already been challenging, said Olsen, who typically brings in coaches and athletes from around the country to serve as instructors and speakers. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of this year's presenters were Treasure State coaches, including Frontier Conference coaches Kyle Samson (Montana Tech football), Steve Keller (Providence men's basketball) and Harry Clark (Carroll College track and field).
High school coaches like Rob Stanton (Billings West football, track and field), Josh Stewart (Lodge Grass boys basketball) and John O'Dell (Townsend wrestling, tennis) were scheduled to speak.
Out-of-state headline speakers included Mike Morgan of Washington, who was to speak on proactive coaching, and Kristin McWilliams, a highly decorated cross country and track mentor from Florida.
Though disappointed, Olsen said he understands the decision from the Cascade City-County Health Department. Montana has seen record numbers in daily COVID cases in recent weeks, with 784 active cases as of Saturday's report from the Montana Department of Health & Human Services.
"We hope to be back with our best Clinic ever in 2021," Olsen wrote on the MCA website. "We encourage all coaches to join MCA for the 2020-21 year."