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Andrew Aparicio and other Coupeville netters won’t play in April and May, as planned, after Friday Harbor cancelled all fall sports. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One rival steps down, and Coupeville High School loses 12 games and matches off its schedule.

Due to what the San Juan Islander is terming a “significant surge in positive COVID cases in the San Juan Island community,” Friday Harbor High School will not play fall sports, which begin this week.

That move affects four Coupeville teams, with boys tennis being hurt the most.

Friday Harbor is the only other Northwest 2B/1B League school to play the net game, so Coupeville’s entire six-match schedule for this pandemic-shortened season is lost.

That sends the Wolf netters to the sideline, though they can join cross country or football.

Coupeville’s volleyball, football, and girls soccer squads are also affected by the reduction in foes.

The loss of Friday Harbor cuts Coupeville’s soccer schedule from nine to six games, trims volleyball’s campaign from 12 matches to 10, and slashes football from four games to three.

Soccer loses road games April 9 and May 1, and a home tilt April 20, while volleyball was scheduled to host Friday Harbor April 10, then travel April 24.

CHS football is set to open at home against La Conner this Saturday, April 10.

With Friday Harbor’s departure, the Wolf gridiron squad will then sit until April 30, when they travel to La Conner for a rematch. They close their season May 8 at home against Concrete.

With NWL schools only playing league foes during the 2020-2021 school year, it’s unlikely any of the cancelled games or matches will be replaced.

And before you ask, Coupeville can’t call up its Whidbey neighbors, as tempting as that would normally be.

The leagues which Oak Harbor and South Whidbey are currently in played fall sports first, and are now playing spring sports.

CHS and the NWL opted to open with spring sports — all played outdoors — as prep sports teams tentatively returned from a year-plus absence.

 

To read more about the surge in cases on Friday Harbor, pop over to:

ALERT: Surge in cases on San Juan Island; here’s what to do (sanjuanislander.com)

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Willie Smith is watching to make sure you follow all guidelines. Don’t make him come down there. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No concessions. Limited seating. Masks for all spectators.

As Coupeville High School moves from spring sports to fall sports during the Age of Coronavirus, there will be some fairly strict guidelines for fans attending volleyball, football, or soccer contests.

The ability to follow these rules will dictate whether events remain open to fans.

 

Volleyball at CHS and CMS gyms:

Varsity matches will be played in the CHS gym, JV matches in the CMS gym.

JV spectators must exit through the side doors of the gym, and not back through the main lobby, and must leave the facilities after the match.

Due to limited seating, JV spectators are NOT allowed to also attend the varsity match.

An exception will be made only for parents whose daughters play for both JV and varsity.

“With the regulations in place for six feet of distance between fans/groups, it severely limits the number of spectators allowed in our gyms,” said CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith.

“This is why we have to limit spectator numbers and not allow those fans that watch the JV match to be able to watch the varsity matches.

“It is simply a matter of numbers and seats, and we just don’t have the size to accommodate everyone we’d like to.”

Spectators for varsity matches should enter through the main lobby 20-30 minutes prior to start time, and go directly to the CHS gym.

Senior parents and families will be given first choice of bleacher seats behind the benches in the CHS gym.

Family groups (one household) are allowed to sit together, but must maintain six-foot distance from other spectators/groups.

Blue tape on the bleachers in both gyms will be used to maintain six-foot distances between spectators.

Cones on the bleachers indicate areas where spectators are not allowed to sit.

The “crow’s nest” in the CHS gym is limited to two individuals and is reserved for home and visiting camera operators only.

Bathrooms will be open, but no food is allowed in the facility, and concessions will remain closed.

Masks have to be worn at all times.

 

Football and soccer @ CHS Stadium:

Same as the gym – bathrooms open, no food allowed in, no concessions, and masks are mandatory.

Red tape will be used to divide the bleachers into six-foot sections, with red X’s marking rows where people can not sit.

Spectators are allowed to sit in groups of 10-15 (no more than two households together) but must still maintain six foot distance from other spectators.

Fans can spread out along the outside of the track, but are NOT allowed on the track.

Teams will remain on the field at halftime, with no gym or shed access.

The press box is limited to a maximum of three people — the announcer, the clock operator, and one media person.

Which means, you try and take my seat in there, you probably get tasered.

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Dakota Eck returns an interception last season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One bad test, lots of fall-out.

A positive COVID-19 result for a member of the Friday Harbor High School boys track and field team will derail its scheduled football opener.

That’s because many of the school’s track athletes are also football players, and will have to sit out for two weeks.

That game, set for April 9, was supposed to be a road contest at Coupeville.

The Wolves will instead pick up a game with La Conner to take its place, but will play Saturday, April 10 instead.

Kickoff is 6 PM.

“It was better for the officials (to move to Saturday),” said Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith.

The move creates a bit of a conflict for CHS workers, as Coupeville also hosts its home volleyball opener the same day, with JV at 3:30 and varsity at 5:00.

But, it is what it is, in this Age of Coronavirus.

“We don’t have a lot of wiggle room in our short seasons this year,” Smith said.

With opponents flipped out, the hope is Coupeville football will still have a four-game schedule in this pandemic-shortened campaign.

After the opener, the Wolf gridiron squad is off until Friday, April 23, when it travels to Friday Harbor.

A road game at La Conner April 30, and a home contest May 8 versus Concrete comprise the pared-down schedule.

As we transition from spring sports into traditional fall sports, info on how fan seating will be handled for football, volleyball, and soccer will be released later this week, Smith said.

 

UPDATE — 3/30 @ 2:45 PM:

Volleyball start times changed to 11 AM for JV and 12:30 PM for varsity. So no conflict.

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Avalon Renninger launches a shot in pre-pandemic times. Even with Washintgon state moving into Phase 3, don’t expect local gyms to be this full anytime soon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everything is fluid in the Age of Coronavirus.

Day to day, game schedules and rules can, and do, change, and school athletic directors have to remain nimble and ready for everything.

As Coupeville AD Willie Smith and his associates in the Northwest 2B/1B League continue to pull off a remarkable comeback for school athletics, the latest twist is the state moving to Phase 3, and how that affects fans attending games.

So far, all NWL athletic contests have been limited to home fans, with the exception of track and field, where fans have been barred.

That’s because schools have been working with a limit of 200 people at an event, which includes coaches, athletes, refs, officials, media, and fans.

With most track meets featuring 6-8 schools, that number fills up fast counting just participants.

Baseball, softball, and girls tennis, with just two teams playing, leave enough open slots that league AD’s opted to include home fans, something many other leagues statewide have not.

The move to Phase 3 statewide includes language which seems to indicate the number of people who can be at an event bounces from 200 to 400, raising the idea road fans might be allowed.

But it’s not that simple, as there are a lot of moving parts involved.

“Our league is still working through the process,” Smith said. “The Island schools (Orcas, Friday Harbor) are waiting to hear back from their health department on what the requirements will be.”

While all spring sports are played outside, the return of fall sports in early April present a new challenge for the NWL, with volleyball matches played in gyms.

“One thing that needs to be made clear is that indoor sports are predicated at 25% of max occupancy OR 400, whichever is less,” Smith said.

Coupeville’s high school gym legally holds 1,459 people, while its middle school gym holds 1,048.

That means the limit for each under Phase 3 is actually 365 and 262 people, respectively, not 400.

Determining how many people can legally be at a soccer or football game at Coupeville’s Mickey Clark Field is still under review, Smith said.

The other six NWL schools, which all have smaller student bodies than CHS, face similar, unique issues with their gyms and playing fields.

“Determining who gets in is going to be quite a task, which we are still working on,” Smith said. “We don’t have an answer yet, because it’s not quite as simple as just saying all are welcome.”

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Attendance at high school sporting events can double in size, from 200 to 400, as of March 18. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A full return to high school sports competition in Washington state took a new, positive turn Thursday afternoon.

In a press conference, Governor Jay Inslee announced his Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery plan will transition back to a county-by-county evaluation process Monday, March 22.

Island County will no longer be lumped into a region, and will stand on its own. Also, smaller counties will be held to different numbers than larger counties.

Under the plan, all counties will move into a new Phase 3, which allows for increased fans at outdoor and indoor sports events.

Currently, the cap is 200, and many leagues have opted not to allow fans for any sports.

The Northwest 2B/1B League, which includes Coupeville, currently allows home fans at baseball, girls tennis, and softball competitions.

Road fans are barred, and no fans at all are allowed at track meets.

As of Mar. 18, the limit jumps to 400 individuals at “outdoor venues with permanent seating with capacity capped at 25%” and “indoor facilities — so long as 400 people does not exceed 50% capacity for the location.”

Physical distancing and masking protocols will still be enforced.

Five of Coupeville’s six scheduled track meets, including a home event April 3, fall after the increase from 200 to 400 fans.

NWL Athletic Directors have not yet commented on how the change will affect the status of road fans, or whether fans will be allowed to attend track meets.

While many leagues opted to open with traditional fall sports, the NWL chose a spring-fall-winter format for this pandemic-afflicted school year.

That should prove to be a financial boon for the league.

By holding off on football, the leading money maker, until season two, the NWL will benefit from increased crowd capacity, something which has dinged most schools currently playing on the gridiron.

The transition also makes it much more likely winter sports, considered the “highest risk” by the State Department of Health, will play during the planned season of May 3 to June 12.

“The sports guidance applies to a safe and healthy expansion of youth sports,” Inslee said on his official Twitter account. “High-contact sports like basketball, wrestling, and cheerleading will be allowed to have competitions again.”

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