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With Island County in Phase 3 of the Governor’s COVID-19 reopening plan, Coupeville athletes have been able to return to practices. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Games are still on hold, but everyone gets more practice days.

The Executive Board of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Friday it has extended the “open coaching window” from November 30 to Dec. 19.

With most schools across the state using distance learning as the world deals with the ongoing pandemic, actual competition is not currently planned to begin until Jan.

The open coaching window is normally offered during the summer, and allows coaches to work with their athletes during the off-season.

With COVID-19 having thrown the normal prep sports schedule into disarray, the WIAA opted to allow practices, or open gyms, or whatever you want to call them, to go from Sept. 28-Nov. 30.

With Island County in a modified Phase 3 in Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, Coupeville was able to start practices immediately.

However, a lot of other counties are still in Phase 2, or below that, and quite a few schools have not been able to begin practices, mainly because their risk assessment offices have recommended against it.

By extending the open coaching window almost three weeks, the WIAA hopes to offer those schools lagging behind a chance to catch up and get some practices in the book.

Schools are allowed to hold intra-team scrimmages during this period, but can not currently hold competitions with other schools under WIAA rules.

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Coupeville athletes and coaches such as Randy King are sidelined. (Brian Vick photo)

Control what you can control.

With that in mind, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association issued a statement Tuesday in regards to spring sports during the battle to blunt the spread of coronavirus.

There were two primary take-aways.

One, if school closures across the state do end April 24, as is currently planned, the WIAA intends to hold its state championship events as scheduled.

But, any further delays “could put the state championships in jeopardy, as no championships will be held after May 30 to avoid conflicts with graduation.”

If students are allowed to return to class, the first day sports could start back up would be April 27, but all athletes would have to re-do the 10 practices they need to be eligible to compete.

“No matter the outcome of the following weeks, there will be no reduction to the minimum number of practices required to compete,” the WIAA said in its statement.

However, the organization would offer a blanket waiver, allowing athletes to reach 10 practices in five days, instead of the normal 10.

“As an example, administrators could hold a schoolwide conditioning practice before classes and sport-specific practices in the afternoon as a way to reach 10 practices efficiently and safely,” the WIAA said.

If sports do return April 27, games could begin the first week of May.

Even then, seasons would have to be compressed, especially in team sports, as there wouldn’t be enough time to play complete schedules.

One option which has been raised is having team sports such as baseball and softball immediately open play with a league tournament to decide postseason berths.

The losing teams would then pair off and play regular season games, and the WIAA would grant all schools the ability to continue play through May 30.

Nothing has been decided, however.

During the six-week shutdown, coaches are not allowed to work with athletes, teams are not allowed to practice together, and the WIAA is putting an emphasis on school leaders standing firm and honoring restrictions placed by Governor Jay Inslee.

 

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The Coupeville Middle School girls basketball season is fast approaching for players like Jada Heaton. (Photo by Corinn Parker)

Get in the gym early.

Practices for the upcoming Coupeville Middle School girls basketball season kick off later this month, but there are three opportunities for prospective players to hit the floor before then.

The Wolf SWISH hoops team is opening their final three practices to any interested CMS girls, starting Monday, Jan. 6.

The other sessions are Jan. 13 and 15, with all practices running from 6-8 PM in the middle school gym.

“We’ll be working on fundamentals and doing some fun competitive drills,” said SWISH coach Fred Farris. “It would be a great opportunity for those still deciding if they want to play this season.”

Practice for the middle school season begins Jan. 21, and the 10-game season starts Feb. 6, with a home contest against Northshore Christian Academy.

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Wolf cheerleader Emily Fiedler works on her bow and arrow. (BreAnna Boon photo)

Every practice counts.

As a new fall sports season nears — Coupeville High School football opens at home Sept. 6 against Port Townsend, before girls soccer hosts Meridian the next day — all the Wolves are hard at work.

Today, the camera swings in the direction of the CHS cheer squad, thanks to their willingness to post videos on Instagram.

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Emma Mathusek (John Fisken photos)

   “You want me to shoot at the basket all the way up there?!?” Emma Mathusek contemplates her options. (John Fisken photos)

Ethan Spark

Ethan Spark gets ready to break some ankles in his return to the hard-court.

Mikayla Elfrank

Mikayla Elfrank, showing off her laser focus.

Kailey and Lauren

Kailey Kellner limbers up running mate Lauren Rose.

Brian Shank

Brian Shank has eyes only for the basket.

Gabe Wynn

Gabe Wynn, lost in the moment.

Maya Toomey-Stout

   Maya Toomey-Stout is here to drain buckets and chew gum … and she’s all out of gum.

Downes

After a successful season at QB, Hunter Downes is still looking to pass.

Basketball is officially back.

The sounds of shoes squeaking and leather smacking against the hard-wood echoes across the prairie, interrupted every so often by the soft click-click of wandering cameraman John Fisken.

The photos above, which are courtesy him, come from the first days of practice, as the CHS hoops squads get back at it.

Coupeville’s girls team, coached by David and Amy King, is a two-time defending 1A Olympic League champ coming off its first trip to the state tourney in a decade.

The boys, under the guidance of Anthony Smith and Dustin Van Velkinburgh, won nine games in 2015-2016, their best showing since 2011.

The days to come will tell the tale of how Coupeville will replace departed legends such as Makana Stone and Wiley Hesselgrave, and who will pick up the mantle.

For now, bask in the first photos and the promise of a new season.

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