Posts Tagged ‘Willie Smith’

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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CMS athletes like Lyla Stuurmans could be back in action in January. (Corinn Parker photo)

Middle school sports have not been forgotten about.

As Washington state (and the world) deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, prep sports have been massively disrupted, with the loss of spring and summer seasons, and a push-back to any games during the upcoming school year.

Athletic directors, league officials, and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association worked on creating opportunities for high school students first, but now they’ve turned their efforts to middle school as well.

As expected, middle school athletic programs will follow the lead of their high school counterparts, with no games until Jan., 2021, at the earliest.

Middle school athletes will not be totally sidelined until then, however.

The current plan offered by the WIAA will allow for an “open coaching season” from Sept. 28-Nov. 29, with this being available to middle and high school athletes.

Practices will be held after school (2:30-on), even if students are still in online learning and not in-person education, and will be posted on the Coupeville School District’s Tandem calendar.

High school sports are currently set to begin actual competition with basketball up first. Practice would begin the last week of December, with the opening games the first week of January.

With middle school sports, it’s still very much a work in progress, said CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith.

The hope is for CMS teams to also begin play in January, but no schedules have been drafted yet.

That’s largely because only two schools in the Cascade Middle School League — Coupeville and South Whidbey — are in counties which have reached Phase 3 in the state’s reopening plan.

Granite Falls, Sultan, King’s, Northshore Christian, and Lakewood all are in counties currently in Phase 2.

“This is why we aren’t publishing any schedules, because we don’t know where the majority of our league will be in January,” Smith said. “We are hopeful that all will be in at least Phase 3.”

Of the sports CMS plays, boys soccer, volleyball, track and field, and cross country are considered Phase 3 sports, while girls and boys basketball require Phase 4.

If some sports can be played, but it requires moving seasons around to do so, that opens up other questions for the league athletic directors.

“When planning the seasons, it’s important to note that we have to look at gender equity, facilities, transportation, and officials availability,” Smith said.

If and when middle school teams are allowed to play, the Cascade League plans to have each season be comprised of two weeks of practice, and three weeks of games.

The WIAA and the sports medicine group it works with plans to waive the practice requirements, but league AD’s don’t agree.

“We didn’t feel it would be in the athletes best interest, either on a safety or a mental/physical preparedness level to follow those guidelines,” Smith said.

Though current WIAA plans call for high school teams to compete through the end of June, the Cascade League wants to wrap middle school sports by the end of May.

“This aligns with the ability of our middle school students and families to be able to focus on the last month of school, rather than extend the sports year all the way to the end of June as high school is being proposed to do,” Smith said.

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Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith has been a busy bee this summer.

How much wood would Willie work if Willie could work wood?

A lot, it appears.

Taking a few days off from the grind of being an athletic director in the age of coronavirus (and having to read my endless, rambling emails), Willie Smith has been a busy bee.

The CHS/CMS sports guru has to return to the office at some point, but he’s spent a chunk of his vacation time communing with nature.

Recent projects include converting an old foosball table into a new work of finely-crafted art.

Also emerging from the workshop have been an epoxy table for daughter Megan, a table top for his brother-in-law, and a cheese platter for his sister-in-law.

Kid’s got skills.

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Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Three working as one.

The Athletic Directors at Whidbey Island’s high schools have united to guide their schools through spring sports practices as everyone deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Willie Smith (Coupeville), Jerrod Fleury (Oak Harbor), and Paul Lagerstadt (South Whidbey) have done so with the intention all Wolf, Wildcat, and Falcon athletes and coaches will work off the same directives.

The first practices were held while Island County was in Phase Two of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s Reopening Plan.

With the move to Phase Three a few days ago, things will continue to be opened up, as long as guidelines are met.

As they make plans, the trio of athletic directors have been working with guidance from the National Federation of High Schools, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, and the Island County Health Department.

With the county moving to Phase Three, practices, which had been limited to five individuals at one site, can now include 10 participants (athletes and coaches) in each indoor space, or 50 individuals outdoors.

If practicing outdoors, workouts must be conducted in “pods” comprised of no more than 20 athletes.

All participants are required to maintain a six-foot distance from each other at all times, and it is “highly recommended coaches and athletes wear cloth face coverings, if social distancing is not able to be maintained.”

Locker rooms and meeting rooms are not allowed to be used, there should be no shared athletic apparel or shared hydration, and all athletic equipment must be cleaned intermittently during practices.

The return to practices covers “lower risk” or “modified risk” sports which can be done with social distancing, done individually, or with no sharing of equipment, or the ability to clean equipment.

“Lower risk” sports are identified as individual running events, individual swimming, golf, sideline cheer, and cross country running.

“Modified risk” sports include basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, and 7-on-7 football.

Weight training is also allowed, with a limit of 10 participants (coaches and athletes) allowed in the room at one time.

Social distancing must be maintained, with lifters separated (i.e. every other cage), while spotters must wear masks.

Weight equipment has to be wiped down thoroughly before and after each individual’s use of equipment and maximum lifts should be limited.

The AD’s plan includes vigorous attention to sanitization.

Prior to an individual or group entering a facility, touch points/hard surfaces within that facility must be wiped down and sanitized.

This includes things such as door handles, weight room equipment, and bathrooms.

Athletes are instructed to provide their own workout gear, encouraged to shower (at home) and wash their clothing after each workout, and must wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before participating in workouts.

To be able to practice, Coupeville athletes are required to provide a new note from their parent or guardian each day stating they have a normal temperature and are OK to practice.

Coaches will maintain files with these notes, and the responses to screening questions for each participant, in the case an athlete tests positive for COVID-19.

If an athlete or coach has positive symptoms, they will not be allowed to participate in workouts.

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