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Logan Martin slashes to the hoop Monday during the first day of high school basketball practice. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Basketball is back.

Thanks to the pandemic, games are being played in spring/early summer this time around, instead of winter, but it’s important to note — they are going to be played.

Both the Coupeville High School girls and boys hoops programs have 12-game schedules (down from the normal 18-20), with the first live action on the road May 18 in Mount Vernon.

Home openers are set for May 20, with Orcas Island the foe, and the season runs through June 17.

The pics above and below, capturing the first day of practice for the Wolf boys, come to us courtesy John Fisken.

To see his work from other sports, pop over to:

John’s Photos (johnsphotos.net)

 

Ryan Blouin debates his options.

Hawthorne Wolfe visualizes tossing the ball over his shoulder and hitting absolutely nothing but net.

Xavier Murdy rambles to the hoop.

“See the basket, be the basket.”

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Outdoor practices with masks, such as this one with CHS softball player Kylie Van Velkinburgh, can continue. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Adapt and move on.

That’s the unspoken mantra for Whidbey Island athletes, coaches, and administrators during the Age of Coronavirus.

So, Sunday’s press conference by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was just another bump in the road.

With COVID-19 cases rapidly rising across the country as the pandemic slams into the regular flu and cold season, many states are enacting new guidelines aimed at preventing people from interacting in contained spaces.

While there have been no games since February, high school and middle school athletes have been allowed to participate in off-season practices by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

That won’t end, but everyone will have to adapt after Inslee issued an executive order instituting new mitigation measures.

For the Wolves, and their counterparts in Oak Harbor and South Whidbey, the quick takeaway is this – indoor practice, no, but outdoor practice, yes.

“In accordance with the new state guidelines issued by Governor Inslee, all indoor sporting activities are canceled until December 14th,” Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith said.

“Outdoor activities will continue with pods of 10 student-athletes wearing masks at all times.

“After conferring with other Island Athletic Directors, this will be the guidelines all schools on the Island will follow until further notice.”

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Mickey Clark Field waits. (David Stern photo)

Better safe than sorry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls on, Coupeville High School Athletic Director Willie Smith has been at the forefront of making sure the Wolves remain diligent in how they conduct business in the Age of Coronavirus.

When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association opened the chance for schools to start workouts for their athletes — there will be no games until at least January — CHS took advantage.

But Smith has also been a hawk in making sure Health Department guidelines are followed by his coaches and athletes every step of the way.

So, with that in mind, he put a temporary hold on some activities starting late last week.

While there have been no positive COVID cases publicly reported among participants in the CHS practices, the start of cold and flu season has everyone looking twice as hard at every wayward sniffle.

Which is why some recent practices for sports such as football have been cancelled.

“Some of our student athletes have colds or cold-like symptoms and as an Athletic Department we have chosen to postpone the optional practices that those students participate in as a precautionary measure,” Smith said.

“As soon as we are able, we will begin offering our optional sports practices once again.”

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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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