Posts Tagged ‘Mick Hoffman’

Heidi Meyers sports a mask while working on her softball skills. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s mandatory.

The Washington State Department of Health currently plans to require prep athletes wear masks in both practices and competitions through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

The only sport that will be allowed to go mask-less is swimming.

There are ongoing discussions, however, concerning whether “low-risk” sports such as cross country and tennis might be freed from the mandate.

“We are continuing to share information on whether that (wearing masks) is appropriate in all venues,” said Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director Mick Hoffman.

“Right now we are being told we have to wear masks or we can’t do the activity,” he added. “That decision is made by the Department of Health, at the state level, and the Governor’s office.

“We (the WIAA) can not change that.”

Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have required masks for some prep sports, with Michigan the only one to have a face-covering mandate for high school football.

That mandate was issued by Governor Gretchen Witmer in September, and Michigan was able to play a complete season, with state championships set for this coming weekend.

In Washington state, athletes in all sports other than swimming will be “required to wear a cloth mask over mouth and nose at all times.”

Gaiters are “allowed, but not preferred.”

The DOH recommends masks made from cotton, fleece or linen, with a fastening mechanism, preferably ties or an elastic strap which goes around an athlete’s head or behind their ears.

Along with solitary “low-risk” sports perhaps being exempted, there is also the question on how football players will wear both a mask and the still-required mouth guard, since most mouth guards are directly attached to the player’s helmet.

Like everything in the Age of Coronavirus, things can, and likely will, change from day to day as discussions between the WIAA and the DOH continue.

For now, the WIAA understands “there are conflicting medical reports out there,” Hoffman said.

But the athletic governing body can’t go counter to the mandates of state officials.

“For those that take the stance that this is a health concern for students doing it (wearing masks), and it can cause issues, all I can tell you, is if you feel that way, you can’t let the student participate,” Hoffman said.

“If it’s a bona fide health concern for that student, you shouldn’t put that student out there.

“No different from a head injury, or any cardiac issue; no different if they have serious asthma or smoke.

“Because, at this time, we can’t give you a waiver.”

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Traditional fall high school sports such as football may be the first to return to play. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everything changes. Again.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board voted Wednesday to redo its planned 2020-2021 school athletic schedule, moving traditional fall sports back in front.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been no prep games in the state played in nearly 11 months, in any sport, and the plans to return to play have been constantly-changing.

Up until Wednesday night, winter sports such as basketball were set to possibly be the first ones back.

But, after new guidelines were set in place earlier this week by Governor Jay Inslee and the state Health Department, the WIAA opted to flip things.


“The change in guidelines allow all traditional fall sports to be played while we still do not have a clear pathway to the high-risk indoor activities of basketball, competitive cheer and dance, and wrestling,” said WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman.

“With that in mind, moving fall sports to Season 1 will hopefully provide the most opportunities to participate.”

The new plan is for fall sports to begin practices Feb. 1, with a shortened season ending March 20.

Season 2 (March 15-May 1) and Season 3 (April 26-June 12) remain on the schedule as before, though it’s unclear if traditional winter sports will follow, or whether spring sports will leapfrog them.

Some more clarification is expected after the WIAA Executive Board meets Jan. 19.

“We are hoping to receive more details that were not included in the Governor’s announcement on Tuesday, particularly surrounding indoor sports and activities,” Hoffman said.

“As we continue to gather more information and evaluate the new metrics, the board will be able to make better decisions about the remainder of the year.”

The move to flip fall sports back in front would seem to indicate the possible return of football, cross country, volleyball, boys tennis, and boys and girls soccer for Coupeville High School.

But, and this is a huge BUT, while the WIAA is providing a “uniform season schedule concluding in regional culminating events, it has granted each league or district around the state the ability to reschedule seasons to best fit their local communities.”

Any decision from the Athletic Directors of the Northwest 2B/1B League will likely have to come soon, but no time frame for a decision has been announced.

Part of that decision hinges on implementation of the new guidelines — Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery — which divides the state into eight regions.

Island County is now linked with Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan Counties (but not Snohomish, which includes Darrington, one of Coupeville’s league foes) in the North Region.

There will be two phases in the plan, with all regions beginning in Phase 1 next Monday, Jan. 11.

To move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, a region needs to meet four metrics:

**10-percent decline in COVID-19 case rates over the past two weeks.
**10-percent decrease in COVID-19 hospital admission over the past two weeks.
**ICU occupancy under 90 percent.
**Test positivity less than 10 percent.

If a region is in Phase 2, all outdoor sports, including “high-risk” ones such as football, can play games.

Indoor sports classified as “medium-risk,” such as volleyball, can also play, but “high-risk” indoor sports like basketball can not.

It is currently unknown what a region will have to do to reach an as-yet unknown Phase 3 under the new plan, which would allow “high-risk” indoor sports to play.

It’s also unknown if any fans will be allowed to attend games if fall sports really do start Feb. 1.

Which shouldn’t be a surprise.

In this Age of Coronavirus, just remember, with each 1% of clarification comes another 99% of “I have no freakin’ clue.”

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Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Director Mick Hoffman is calling for a safe return to play for state prep athletes. (Photo courtesy WIAA)

School sports and activities are needed now more than ever.

That’s the message the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association wants to send to Governor Jay Inslee as we hit nine months with no high school or middle school games.

Thursday, WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman issued an opinion piece, which we’re sharing in its entirety.


Ever since I was lucky enough to become the Executive Director at the WIAA, I’ve told our staff and membership that we are in the memory-making business.

Those memories can be made in any town, large or small, in any sport or activity, at a mid-week practice, a senior night, or a State Championship final. 

As a former coach and teacher, I had the opportunity to be a part of those memories and I’ve seen firsthand that high school is defined as much by what you learn outside of the classroom as what you learn in it.

Coaches and athletic directors, along with those of us at the WIAA, have long championed the value of education-based athletics and activities.

Everyone has heard how competition can build character, teach discipline and life lessons, and connect students with peers and their communities.

These are more than just talking points or “coach-speak” because now, in the absence of these extracurricular activities, it has never been more clear how much they are needed.

Parents can see the outsized toll this sudden change in life has taken on our kids.

It has diminished our sense of joy, created anxiety over our safety and wellbeing, and stolen what will soon be a full year of our lives.

While there is conclusive evidence about the physical dangers of this virus among certain age groups and demographics, the Governor’s Office and Department of Health must factor in the impact restrictions have on our students’ mental and emotional health.

A University of Wisconsin study found in July that approximately 68% of 3,243 student-athletes surveyed, which included Washington students, reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that would typically require medical intervention.

That was a 37% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

We are fighting a disease we have never seen before and one we know little about.

This fall, schools in Washington chose not to offer sports and activities in accordance with the Governor’s recommendation.

At the time, we had little information on the risk of extracurricular activities in relation to COVID. Now, research from around the country allows us to make decisions on real data.

The University of Wisconsin found that, in a sample of 30,000 high school athletes, only 271 COVID-19 cases were reported, with 0.5% of those cases traced back to sports contact.

In New Jersey, EDP Soccer managed 10 youth soccer tournaments in the state as well as multiple soccer leagues along the East Coast.

In approximately 318,500 games, no COVID-19 cases were attributed to participation.

Right here in Washington, Seattle United Soccer Club had 1,930 boys and girls participate in its programs this summer for two months of training.

In total, two of those players contracted the virus and both of those came from community transmission, outside of sport.

These examples of students returning to sports are not meant to diminish the havoc and loss that this virus has caused.

They are meant to show that if we work together and take the proper precautions, we can return to offering these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

We know this because it has already been done.

These are challenging times, absolutely, but there is no hiding from this pandemic.

We’ve heard the hesitancy among superintendents: “How can we offer athletics when we haven’t returned to in-person learning?”

This is not a logistical question. It is a question regarding optics and politics.

I understand the hesitancy based on the stance of their communities. However, we must focus on the values and interconnectivity of extracurricular activities.

Education-based sports and activities have always been a key component of our school system.

We cannot eliminate one portion of a student’s education because we had to modify another.

Aside from the inherent values that come with athletic and activity participation, students who compete in high school have shown to achieve higher grades, increase motivation and engagement, and improve the overall high school experience.

I’ve heard anecdotal evidence from our schools as well.

Administrators in large school districts are reporting three times the number of students earning failing grades this year with all the challenges we face.

Students are not attending on a regular basis or, in some cases, at all.

This has been a difficult time for students, teachers and everyone working to educate our children.

Returning to competition will not be a cure-all, but, in a time where students have become disconnected from their education, we know athletics and activities can help them re-engage.

This call to action is not coming from a place of self-preservation or self-interest.

While the WIAA itself has taken a financial hit during the pandemic, I am confident the organization is positioned to survive these hard times and thrive when we return to normality.

A return to play this year without fans in attendance likely makes for a more difficult financial situation.

But that is not what this is about.

We have seen education-based athletics and activities take place successfully throughout the country.

The state of Washington has demonstrated we can develop and execute safety measures during the pandemic.

Our athletic directors and coaches have proven they are committed to ensuring the safety of student-participants and complying with state-mandated regulations. 

We must allow students to participate under the supervision of their school leaders and coaches and the WIAA is prepared to assist in navigating that process.

There is no safer place for a student than our schools, before and during this pandemic. 

Not to mention schools offer the most equitable opportunities for students of all skill levels and financial means.

Restricting the ability of schools forces students and families to pursue avenues that are cost prohibitive and have fewer safety measures.

I understand that as I write this, we are seeing another surge in COVID cases around the country as well as in Washington, and that we may need to wait before we begin competition again.

But we cannot wait until COVID goes away because students don’t have that luxury.

They’re running out of time to make memories.

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