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Posts Tagged ‘Willie Smith’

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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After extensive planning, CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith has set up a plan for Wolf athletes to conduct spring practices. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Practice?

We’re talking about practice.

With the stay at home order lifted and Island County in Phase Two of Washington state’s plan for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coupeville High School athletes will return to action.

Just with a lot of restrictions and no games.

CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith has been a busy man of late, combing through the various guidelines set down by Governor Jay Inslee and his staff, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

After taking everything into consideration, Smith has established a plan for spring practices, and cleared that plan with the Island County Health Department.

Now, CHS coaches will contact their athletes to set up practice times and sites, and the information will be posted on the school’s website.

What we know:

*No practices/workouts are allowed on Coupeville School District property through June 19, since all state schools remain closed through the end of the school year.

*Coaches are allowed to work with no more than five students per week, and it must be the same students the entire week, with no swapping of coaches or students.

Students/coaches can rotate once a new week starts, but that new group must remain consistent for the remainder of the new week.

*Students may only practice with one sport per week.

*Only five students are allowed on site at one time. Coaches can not have different groups of students gathered at the same facility at the same time.

*For sports such as basketball, each student will have their own ball to use, and there will be no sharing of balls.

*Students may not share water bottles, clothing, shoes, or similar items, and social distancing rules need to be followed.

*CHS will require a signed note from a parent/guardian each day a student is practicing, stating that their child’s temperature has been checked that morning and it is normal.

These notes have to be kept in a folder and with the coach at all times.

If a student does not have a signed note they may not participate that day.

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Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith uses his powers judiciously. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

With great power comes great responsibility.

As Coupeville High School transitions from 1A down to 2B, Athletic Director Willie Smith has new options at his fingertips, but will be careful in how he deploys these.

One rule which has caught the eyes of a lot of parents and athletes is the one which allows 2B schools to use 8th graders on high school teams.

It’s allowed in two situations.

In the first, if Coupeville Middle School doesn’t offer a specific sports program which the high school does, such as tennis, softball, or baseball, 8th graders can be allowed to play up.

In the second, if a high school program has a significantly low turnout, 8th graders may be used to “save” a varsity team or allow a school to field both full varsity and JV squads.

But…

While it’s possible we may see 8th graders participate on a Coupeville High School sports team, it will only happen under the second set of circumstances.

This is largely because Smith is doing his due diligence, seeking to work hand-in-hand with his fellow AD’s in the Northwest 2B/1B League, while creating an equal playing field for all eight schools in that revamped league.

Even though there are some talented CMS athletes who will be 8th graders next school year, the Wolves will resist the temptation to supplement their high school rosters just because they can.

If there is not a genuine need to keep a high school program afloat, middle school remains middle school, and high school remains high school.

“The intent of the rule is to help 1B/2B schools who may have low turnout numbers be able to field a varsity or junior varsity team,” Smith said. “If the numbers of participants are above those set numbers we will not even consider moving an 8th grade student up to the high school level.

“If a program is close in numbers to be able to field a sub-varsity (JV) program then we would consider moving up an 8th grade athlete or athletes IF they were willing to do so and IF it allowed us to participate with two full varsity and sub-varsity programs.”

The WIAA has set guidelines for roster size in five sports, and allows 2B schools to use 8th graders if turnout is below these numbers.

They are:

Baseball (25)
Basketball (16)
Soccer (25)
Softball (25)
Volleyball (17)

During the 2019-2020 school year, when Coupeville was still a 1A school and could not have taken advantage of the rule, its baseball program was well under the set number.

In those other four sports, CHS was at, or well above, the cutoffs.

Tennis, cross country, and track are not included on the list, though a similar philosophy of “saving” programs would likely be in effect.

While the latter two of those sports continue to have strong turnouts, tennis has taken a hit in recent seasons, with longtime coach Ken Stange working with some of his thinnest rosters in years.

Football is not included, as it can NOT use 8th graders.

As Coupeville adjusts to a new classification and opportunities, a key will be working smoothly with its new league mates.

“In discussing this with our 2B/1B League schools, who have had this rule at their disposal for many years now, they were clear that the intent of the rule, as well as the implementation of the rule by our league members has always been based on numbers and the salvaging of a program,” Smith said.

“Philosophically, this makes full sense to both myself and our administration and follows the same philosophy as outlined by league members.”

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