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It’s been a really long school year. Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith (left) is not here for your shenanigans. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Basketball, the best high school sport of them all, is almost here.

Practice begins this coming Monday, May 10, with Coupeville’s girls and boys teams starting pandemic-shortened 12-game seasons May 18.

But, with the arrival of hoops, comes the strictest set of Age of Coronavirus guidelines for fans this school year.

Northwest 2B/1B League Athletic Directors have decided no away fans will be allowed at any games, with no exceptions.

Further, the only way for home fans to see games will be if they have an in with a current player.

In order to assure the number of people in the gym meets Washington State Department of Health guidelines, each Wolf player will receive four tickets per home game to distribute to family and friends.

This will apply to five of six home games — Concrete (May 25), La Conner (May 27), Mount Vernon Christian (June 3), Friday Harbor (June 8), and Senior Night against Darrington (June 17).

Coupeville’s home game May 20 against Orcas Island is not open to fans of any kind, as the Vikings have requested that concession from all other NWL schools.

Tickets will be distributed the day prior to a game, and NO FAN will be admitted without a ticket.

Once inside, fans are required to follow all protocols and guidelines as defined by the Coupeville School District, Island County Health, Washington State Health Department, and the Washington State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

They are as follows:

**No outside food; water in a bottle/container is allowed.

**Masks must be worn AT ALL TIMES (other when taking a drink).

**Family groups may sit together, but must maintain a minimum of six-feet of distance from other groups/fans.

**Sitting areas in the gyms will be marked by tape/cones and MUST be followed.

If a row has a cone/X on it, that row is NOT to be sat in.

Tape also shows six-feet of distance throughout the stands.

**Any arguing, harassing, or non-compliance by a spectator towards CHS workers/coaches will result in the immediate discontinuation of ALL fans to attend, and the school will move to streaming games only.

 

Links to stream games:

Concrete — Concrete School District – YouTube

Coupeville — Coupeville High School – Coupeville, WA (nfhsnetwork.com)

Darrington — Justgame Web Services (justagamelive.com)

Friday Harbor — Friday Harbor Tiny Radio | Facebook

La Conner — La Conner Athletics Alpha Channel – YouTube

MVC — Mount Vernon Christian School – Mount Vernon, WA (nfhsnetwork.com)

Orcas Island — Orcas Island Booster Club | Facebook

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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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With the pandemic restricting live access for fans, you can see Coupeville High School athletes like Hayley Fiedler online. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s a tricky dance.

After a year-plus absence, high school sports are back.

But to keep them back, people will have to follow guidelines set down by the Washington State Health Department.

While there have been cases of mask scofflaws gettin’ up to no good in places like Mossyrock, which caused Naselle to cancel a road trip there, the early results from Coupeville have been positive.

Having made it through the first home contests for Wolf softball, track, girls tennis, and baseball, CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith is in a good mood.

A cautious one, but a good one.

He released the following statement Wednesday:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our players, coaches, and fans that have been at our events for their support in following our safety guidelines and rules and ask for your continued support as we move forward.

As we prepare to begin traveling to games, this is just a reminder that our league guidelines prohibit any away fans attending.

With that in mind, our league Athletic Directors are working very hard to provide streaming platforms for those games which will allow our fans to watch those games.

During this time and under our current situation, it is not about politics, opinions, or taking a stand.

It IS about giving our kids the opportunity to be safe and continue to play now and through the remainder of the season(s).

Once again, thank you to all that have attended and continue to follow the guidelines and policies in support of all of our athletes and coaches.

 

To watch road contests (or CHS home games), try the links below.

Friday Harbor and La Conner broadcast for free, while Darrington and Coupeville charge $4 a contest.

 

Friday Harbor:

One link is for baseball, one for softball, but the Friday Harbor IT department hasn’t determined which is which yet, so you’ll need to check both.

Friday Harbor Tiny Radio | Facebook

Friday Harbor Tiny TV – YouTube

 

La Conner:

La Conner Athletics Alpha Channel – YouTube

 

Darrington:

Justgame Web Services (justagamelive.com)

 

Coupeville:

Justgame Web Services (justagamelive.com)

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Wolf cheerleader Bella Velasco waits for the beat to drop. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Good times, good times.

Cristina McGrath plays a merry tune.

Ryan Georges has spirit. Do you?

There’s a new paparazzi in town, and she’s ready for a shoot-out.

Rusty Bailey, photo scamp.

“I’m the king of the world!”

Greg White (left) and Larrie Ford share a laugh.

You don’t have to wear basketball shorts to play a big role during hoops season.

Every Coupeville High School home game brings out a variety of folks, from cheerleaders to band students, to fans of all ages, and even the occasional paparazzi to capture them all on film.

The pics seen above are courtesy John Fisken, and offer a look at that support crew hard at work.

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