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Posts Tagged ‘WIAA’

When high school sports contests return Thursday, athletes like Coupeville’s Ryanne Knoblich will be wearing masks, along with coaches, fans, and refs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s up to you.

And me.

And all of us.

In less than 24 hours, the grand experiment starts up in Coupeville, just as it has started in other cities across Washington state.

High school athletic contests, pitting the Wolves against other schools, return for the first time in a year-plus, even as we continue to wade through an active pandemic.

For a lot of people, it is the light at the end of the tunnel — something to inspire and invigorate students, something to give them hope again.

For others, it is a foolhardy decision.

I’m not here to debate politics with you, to argue over charts and “experts,” and which “experts” you each personally choose to believe or discount.

That’s between you and your family, but mainly you and yourself.

What I am here to do is to try and amplify a point raised Wednesday by Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director Mick Hoffman.

And that point, that plea is this — if you want high school sports to remain active, and expand further, there is no debate for athletes, coaches, refs, or fans.

WEAR YOUR MASK!!

You can like it, you can hate it, you can agree with it, you can scorn those in Governor Jay Inslee’s office who have mandated masks for everyone involved in prep sports.

Cause your personal beliefs don’t matter at this moment.

Wear your mask, or this will all go away as quickly as it returns.

That is a stone cold fact.

This is not me saying so.

This is not Hoffman saying so.

This is the people who actually decide the fate of athletics in our state saying so, in very precise words.

“If people don’t wear masks, there will be consequences, trust me,” is what Hoffman reported state officials saying.

It’s simple.

Inslee’s people, the State Department of Health, and news outlets have been bombarded in the last few days with photos of athletes, coaches, and fans not wearing masks, or trying to pull a fast one by having their mask out of place.

There are those who do not want high school athletics to be played right now, and they are out there, ready to capture photographic proof to back their belief that people won’t act responsibly.

They are coming hard, and Hoffman is pleading with everyone who wants prep sports to remain active, from athletic directors down to parents, to come equally as hard.

“(If it continues), they’re gonna shut us down, and it’s not just the schools that are being reported. It’s all of us,” he said during Wednesday’s WIAA broadcast.

Coupeville track and field returns to action Thursday at home, hosting a five-team meet which will be restricted to athletes, timers, and officials.

Wolf baseball and softball play at home Saturday, with girls tennis hitting the CHS courts Monday.

All three of those latter events are open to fans who adhere to two requests — wear masks and socially distance.

The same goes for athletes, coaches, umps, and refs.

After a year of bitching and complaining, of justifiably being sad and scared, of not knowing if, or when, any semblance of normalcy would return, we are being handed a chance.

And all we have to do is follow one simple request.

The choice is yours, it is mine, it is all of ours.

We can rise above our differences, and work together, or we can splinter off into a million different directions, and kill something good before it gets a chance to thrive.

I’m not asking you to change your mind, to believe in something if you don’t want to, or to accept one person as the final and total authority on infectious diseases and how they’re spread.

You are an independent person in a country where you’re born with the right to hold your own beliefs. So be it.

But frankly, wearing a mask for two hours at a game so your kid, who is also wearing a mask, gets to play softball again, and not be stuck in their bedroom 24/7, doesn’t seem like much to ask.

We’re all going to make our own decision, in the end.

As someone who makes 37 cents an hour (if I’m lucky) writing about sports, I hope that our town embraces what we’re being offered, and makes a small sacrifice.

Coupeville can be part of the argument in favor of sports returning, or it can be part of the argument against.

If you choose the former, thank you.

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Under new guidelines, Coupeville cross country runners like Cristina McGrath may be allowed to compete this season without masks. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

At least one Coupeville High School sports program could go largely mask-less when it returns to play.

After a new ruling Tuesday by the Washington State Department of Health and Governor Jay Inslee’s office, cross country has been given leeway not afforded most other sports.

Under the change, harriers will be allowed to drop their masks once a race begins.

Runners will still have to wear masks prior to the beginning of each race, and once they finish their running.

Instead of having runners bunched up at the beginning, as in pre-COVID times, cross country races will feature staggered starts.

Cross country and gymnastics, which Coupeville doesn’t compete in, are the only sports currently allowed to compete without masks.

Under current Northwest 2B/1B League plans, cross country and other traditional fall sports will run from March 29 to May 8.

Spring sports (baseball, track, softball, girls tennis) are supposed to signal a return to play, running Feb. 22 to April 3, with winter sports going May 3 to June 12.

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Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

Return your wallet to your pocket.

With the full support of school board members, Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King announced Friday all ASB card and Pay-to-Play fees will be waived for the 2020-2021 school year.

In addition, the district intends to refund fees from the 19-20 spring season, which was cancelled due to COVID shutdowns.

As Coupeville schools chart a way to return to holding athletics and activities during the pandemic, King wanted to offer students and parents a thank you for their patience and perseverance.

The current plan, if our region advances to Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s latest reopening plan, calls for Northwest 2B/1B League schools to begin spring sports February 22.

A condensed six-week season will run through April 3.

Fall sports will follow from March 29 to May 8, with basketball closing the school year May 3 to June 12.

Along with sports, many activities are planned to return, with plans still being finalized.

If CHS and CMS students get to participate, everything will be free this school year.

“We don’t believe that students and families should have to pay these fees for limited athletic seasons and activity opportunities,” King said. “(Also), many families in our community have faced financial hardship during this pandemic.”

He also pointed to “it being safer to not have families in and out of our schools paying fees,” and that “it is possible that seasons or games may be cancelled due to COVID-19.”

“The district has a cost savings because we have not have athletics or activities since March, 2020, so we are passing this savings back to our families,” King said.

“Our students and families have already sacrificed enough, as they have lost many opportunities to participate in the athletics and activities.”

The schools will contact affected families in the next few weeks to arrange refunds for last spring.

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Barbi Ford (right), here hanging out with Sylvia Arnold, is one of your go-to people for athletic paperwork. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

You only need to get poked and prodded every other year.

District 1, which includes Coupeville, has opted to move to requiring high school and middle school athletes get a new physical every two years.

Previously, a new one was needed every year.

“If you got a physical last year and participated in athletics, either at the middle or high school, it will be good again this year,” said CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith.

With the change, Wolf athletes and parents need to stay on top of their paperwork.

“That is also why it’s VERY IMPORTANT that you sign up on the form I sent (athletes), as well as get your paperwork in,” Smith said. “We can then reference and crosscheck the status of your physical and let you know whether or not you need a new one.

“We did this for a few reasons. The first is we didn’t know how difficult it would be for students to get into the doctors office/clinic to get a physical this year with all that’s going on.

“The shortness of time between the announcement of the start of our season is very tight, and lastly, the WIAA allows for a two-year physical and this aligns us with both South Whidbey and Oak Harbor.”

With everything topsy-turvy thanks to the pandemic, Smith stressed the importance of everyone responding, quickly, to emails sent out by school officials.

If a parent or guardian didn’t receive an athletic packet and signature forms last week, they can obtain one by emailing Barbi Ford (bford@coupeville.k12.wa.us) or Lisa Yoder (lyoder@coupeville.k12.wa.us).

Athletes also need to return the form sent out asking which sports they intend to play this school year, if COVID allows games to happen.

“As much as we need the paperwork from your parents/guardians, we also need this information (from athletes) for our planning purposes as well as the coaches planning purposes,” Smith said.

Last, but not least, stay on top of your grades, even at a time when most are doing school work online.

“We are holding our students to the same standard of attendance and academics as we would in a regular year,” Smith said.

“With the start of the second semester beginning next week, it is extremely important that if your planning on participating in athletics you get started off on the right foot and stay up to date and on top of your grades.

“We have systems in place to assist those students that may need help with grades, as we have always done, but it really is important that students start and maintain strong attendance and grades the remainder of the year.”

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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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