Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘WIAA’

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.

Again.

“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.”

Read Full Post »

Izzy Wells snags a rebound during a February game, the last time CHS sports teams played before the pandemic shut things down. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hold on.

After meeting Tuesday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board announced it would wait until January 4 to make a decision on whether high school basketball will begin Feb. 1.

The current plan for Covid-delayed prep sports in Washington state is for traditional winter activities to go first, with fall and spring sports following.

Each will have a seven-week season — one week for practice, five for games, and one for a “regional culminating event” in place of a state tourney.

Under that plan, winter sports will run from Feb. 1-March 20, with fall sports March 15-May 1, and spring sports April 26-June 12.

Football will begin practice March 8, as it requires additional practice time.

The biggest issue, however, is whether schools will be eligible to play basketball (or wrestle, swim, bowl, or perform gymnastics — winter sports not offered by CHS) as COVID-19 cases spike nation-wide.

Which is why the WIAA is choosing to wait three weeks to see where things are before making any further decisions.

Under current state guidelines, counties must have fewer than 25 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period to be eligible to play “high-risk” sports such as basketball, wrestling, or football.

No county currently qualifies, with San Juan County being the only one recording less than 100 cases.

Where Coupeville and its Northwest 2B/1B League foes stand:

Friday Harbor — San Juan County — 40.8 cases
Orcas Island — San Juan County — 40.8 cases
Chimacum — Jefferson County — 131.7 cases
Coupeville — Island County — 172.1 cases
Concrete — Skagit County — 301.1 cases
La Conner — Skagit County — 301.1 cases
Mount Vernon Christian — Skagit County — 301.1 cases
Darrington — Snohomish County — 394.7 cases

But, things can change fast, and for multiple reasons.

Governor Jay Inslee released new guidelines Wednesday for in-person instruction in state schools, loosening previous restrictions.

It’s possible there will be a similar reassessment of the sports-specific guidelines, as well.

“The revised recommendations for in-person learning issued by the Governor’s Office, OSPI, and Department of Health show that our state leaders are using all available science and data to drive their decisions,” the WIAA said in a statement Wednesday night.

“While sports and activities were not covered during the announcement, the WIAA is hopeful that guidelines for extracurricular participation will also be revised to align with the data and information that was presented today.”

After Tuesday’s WIAA meeting, Executive Board president Tim Thomsen gave an interview to the Eli Sports Network.

During that discussion, he hit on several key points.

“We know, through all the studies and everything else, that one of the safest places for kids to be is in school,” Thomsen said. “And even safer than that, is in a sports program where it’s even more controlled and a smaller group.”

While saying he’d love it if someone could give him a crystal ball to tell the future, Thomsen urged coaches, athletes, and parents to remain upbeat.

While the WIAA’s hope is for its current schedule to go off perfectly, there are other options on the table as well.

Sports could still be shuffled, with low-risk ones such as cross country moving up. and high-risk ones momentarily stepping back.

Seasons might also be trimmed from seven weeks to six, with the first one starting Feb. 22 instead of Feb. 1.

“That’s about as short as you can make them and make them a viable season,” Thomsen said. “So we realize if we do that, that’s probably the last time we could utilize that option.”

The most dire option, and one the WIAA would like to avoid, is compressing sports into one or two seasons, instead of three, or cancelling some sports outright.

Everything will be done to avoid that if possible, Thomsen said.

There will also be an emphasis on preserving spring sports, as those programs already lost a season when schools originally shut down at the start of the pandemic.

Hovering over everything is the realization there may not be just one answer for the entire state.

If some counties are ready to play before others, they won’t be expected to wait for those lagging behind, with the WIAA pledging to allow schools and leagues to make a lot of their own decisions.

Which means, it’s possible we could see 2B Coupeville play 3A Oak Harbor and 1A South Whidbey if Island County were to improve its COVID case counts before the counties of Wolf league rivals do.

Anything is possible, and anything is on the table.

Barring the arrival of that crystal ball, no one knows nothing, no matter what they tell you.

For his part, Thomsen urges those who want to see prep sports return to approach the Christmas season with a plan in place.

Follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks, and do your part to help your county reduce its case count.

Read Full Post »

There’s money to be made.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has opened the application process for its 2021 Smart Choices Scholarship Program.

Working together with the Dairy Farmers of Washington and Gesa Credit Union, the WIAA will award two $5,000 scholarships, and eight $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors.

Deadline for applications is April 1.

The scholarships honor excellence in athletics/activities, academics, leadership and community service throughout the students high school careers.

Judging is based on:

Athletic/Activity Excellence (30%)
Academic Achievement (30%)
Leadership (20%)
Citizenship/Community Service (10%)
Originality/Creativity of the Essay (5%)
Financial Need (5%)

To apply, pop over to:

WIAA | Washington Interscholastic Activities Association

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Coupeville gunner Ty Hamilton splashes home a jumper. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Basketball is not cancelled, just postponed.

Again.

After meeting Tuesday, the Executive Board of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced its latest adjustment to the 2020-2021 athletic schedule.

With COVID-19 cases spiking statewide, and Governor Jay Inslee having recently issued restrictions which include athletes not practicing inside for at least the next four weeks, a December 28 start for basketball became more unlikely.

The WIAA confirmed that, opting to delay the start of hoops season to Feb. 1, 2021.

At that point, it will be almost a year since a Coupeville High School team in any sport has played a game.

The last time a CHS squad faced off with a rival school came Feb. 11, 2020, when the Wolf girls basketball squad lost a home playoff game to Meridian.

The pandemic kicked into high gear shortly afterwards, with spring sports cancelled in 2019, and fall sports postponed in recent months.

The plan is still to have three complete sports seasons for the 2020-2021 school year, if positive COVID-19 case numbers drop.

Under the latest plan, each season will last seven weeks and end with a “regional culminating event” in place of state tournaments.

Traditional winter sports, which for Coupeville is basketball, will start February 1 and end March 20.

After that, traditional fall sports (football, volleyball, cross country, boys tennis, girls and boys soccer) will go from March 15 to May 1.

Football teams, which have to have more practices than other sports before playing, will start March 8.

The traditional spring sports (softball, track and field, baseball, girls tennis) will close the school year, with practices beginning April 26 and the season ending June 12.

Once we hit those start dates, the ability to play will be decided by whether counties are reaching goals set by state health officials.

To play basketball, which, like football, is considered a “high risk” sport, schools have to be in counties that have less than 25 new cases per 100,000 people in a 14-day period, and less than 5% positive cases overall.

Also, 50% of schools in a WIAA region (by classification) must be eligible to participate in league games.

That means at least four of eight schools in the revamped Northwest 1B/2B League will have to be ready to go for basketball to begin.

With another delay to the start of actual play, the WIAA also voted Tuesday to extend the open coaching window to January 23.

That window, which has been extended twice now, allows coaches to work with student/athletes and have practices.

CHS, under the guidance of Athletic Director Willie Smith, has been holding carefully-monitored workouts for most of its sports programs.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »