Layoff…what layoff? CHS alum Davenport dazzles in summer debut, plus all the diamond cuts to start the new week……

Good Monday morning. Diamond cuts to start the new week. College summer baseball and before we get to yesterday’s action, we have some action from Saturday night we missed yesterday, for which we apologize. And this we frankly shouldn’t have missed.

The Portland Pickles opened their shortened season Saturday night competing in the Portland-based Wild West League, formed after the Pickles’ regular league, the West Coast League, canceled their 2020 season earlier this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And they sent to the hill to start their opener a Cedarcrest High School alum, and let’s just say, the long layoff didn’t affect him at all.

Pitcher Aaron Davenport, who will be a sophomore this fall, is the pitching ace of the University of Hawaii’s baseball team, and was establishing himself in that role this spring before the pandemic canceled the 2020 college baseball season. He’s been on the shelf since then, having had another college summer opportunity, in the Massachusetts-based Cape Cod League, canceled as well. Davenport, as we told you previously, was home in Duvall this summer taking care of his family and enjoying himself when this opportunity came up, an opportunity he took full advantage of Saturday night.

Davenport pitched one-hit ball over five innings striking out 10 leading the Pickles to the 2-1 win over the Portland city rival Gherkins at North Marion High School down outside of Salem, OR. Davenport ended up with no decision as the runs were not scored until after he left the game, but Davenport threw almost 60 pitches, 48 of which went for strikes, so he was in mid-season form, that’s for sure.

It’s expected he’ll get a few more outings with the team before the season wraps up later this summer. Davenport is a 2018 Cedarcrest HS grad and was a sophomore this spring, but the canceled season and subsequent decision to grant everyone an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, means he’ll be that again this fall.

Now to yesterday.

Pios win streak ends: Western Nebraska’s Expedition League winning streak ended at four as the Pioneers were held to three hits last night in a 2-0 loss to the Hastings Sodbusters in Hastings, NE, completing a quick weekend swing to the league’s eastern Nebraska teams. North Bend’s Spencer Marenco, whose hot bat helped key the win streak, cooled off last night, going 0-4. The 2019 Mount Si High School grad plays for Yakima Valley CC.

Western Nebraska is home tonight facing a familiar foe – the South Dakota-based Pierre Trappers, who have already faced the Pioneers several times on Western Nebraska’s home turf in Gering, NE, outside of Scottsbluff, this summer. Tonight’s game starts at 5:30 our time and as always, if you have a phone or tablet, download the TuneIn app, and use that to find the game. On there, search KOZY-FM. This radio station is based in Scottsbluff and is broadcasting all of the games.

Youth softball and baseball now with all of the action from Gamechanger and the Gamechanger app, available on Apple IPhones and IPads in their app store.

Washington Ladyhawks 18U Hirai 10, Washington Shock 16U 2: The Bellevue-based’ Hawks handled affairs nicely in southwest Washington yesterday, beating the Snohomish team. Mount Si’s Willow Westbrook was 0-3 with a run scored for the Shock while June Newport grad Hanako Hirai, whose father coaches the ‘Hawks, led WLH, going 2-3 with two RBI’s.

Northwest Lady Bandits 18U 7, Northwest Elite 6: Mount Si’s Ginger Harris powered the Bandits, who scored six fourth-inning runs before having to survive a furious five-run fifth inning rally from the Elite to escape with the win to close out the weekend over in Post Falls, ID. Harris doubled keying a 2-3 effort, scoring a run and driving in another.

Washington Ladyhawks 16U Seeley 4, Washington Ladyhawks 18U Hirai 4: The two ‘Hawks teams ended after five frames in a draw. Cedarcrest HS’s Riley Warden plays for the Seeley crew and she was 1-2 with a run scored aiding their efforts while for Hirai’s group, Archbishop Murphy grad Brooke Jordan was also 1-2 with a run.

Flame Baseball 7, Northwest Naturals 18U 1: The Sammamish-based Nats wrapped up the weekend on the banks of the Clearwater River over in Lewiston, ID, yesterday being limited to just four hits in the tournament finale loss. Issy’s Colin Curry led NWN, going 2-3 with the Nats’ lone run. Mount Si’s delegation, all of whom were hitless in their at-bats for the Nats, included Cam Ferreri, Jack Phillips, Cole Norah, Dawson Schneider, Tyler Disch and Hayden Weaver.

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SVSJ commentary: WIAA, as it gets ready to more formally move forward with high school fall sports restart, has a lot of tough issues to consider, many which could result in loss of athletes

Time for another Sunday commentary, and we are discussing the current COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on high school sports here in Washington.

This past week, as we have been telling you, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, our state’s governing body for high school sports, delayed the start of the fall high school sports season to September 5, a two-week delay to the start of the season, as the state deals with a rise in cases of the deadly illness which has forced a pause in the state’s reopening plan. The WIAA, as we have also mentioned, plans on further, more iron-clad guidance after their next board meeting later this month, but the two-week delay is allowing the organization some time to figure out how best to proceed.

We trust WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman and his staff to work hard to preserve opportunities for student-athletes; they proved that already once with spring sports athletes, going until the last possible moment and the state’s early closure of schools in April to try to save spring sports for baseball, softball, track and field and other spring sports. So we’d expect the same for athletes this fall, including football, volleyball, cross country and girls’ soccer. But, as has been mentioned here and elsewhere, the WIAA is very powerless at this point; they have to act based on the guidance from state health officials, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Gov. Jay Inslee, so parents and others need to put pressure on them as opposed to the WIAA to ensure normal fall sports this fall at the high school level in Washington.

The WIAA’s job is not going to be a very easy one, as they have many different issues and factors to navigate, a few of which we want to discuss here more in full. All pertain to potential loss of student turnout.

-High school programs losing athletes due to multi-sport players forced to choose one sport: The Northwest Athletic Conference announced a delay in the start of their sports season for local community colleges to after the first of 2021 also this week, and there is some conjecture we are hearing in some quarters that the WIAA may end up following along those same lines, with cross country being a notable exception. And considering that it might be a safer bet to do this with a vaccine expected to be very close, if not out on the market, by then, school leaders may decide to take this approach in an effort to allow for sports to be played. However, the likely overlap of seasons due to the compressed schedule will cause a situation where multi-sports athletes at schools could be forced into one sport, costing other teams at the school those athletes.

Smaller schools in the 2A and lower classifications, such as Cedarcrest, could see this be a bigger issue for them, but larger schools like Mount Si, a 4A, are not going to be immune from it. For example, football’s Colby Ramsey also plays for the Wildcat boys’ soccer team, and this past season saw a pair of recently graduated seniors from Mount Si’s girls’ basketball and soccer teams – Izzy Smith and Joelle Buck – both play together on the two teams at MSHS, with Buck getting a dual college scholarship to play both sports at Pacific Lutheran University.

There is a long-held emphasis by coaches and administrators at the school level to encourage kids to play multiple sports, but schedule overlap this year could prevent that from occurring, and this is something the WIAA will look to avoid.

-High school programs losing athletes due to potential conflicts with out-of-season club programs: An issue that probably is not going to get the attention it deserves from the WIAA but should is the aspect of the potential for athletes to be forced by out-of-season club programs to choose between school and club sports this school year due to schedule overlap. It could especially be evident in volleyball, whose club schedule traditionally starts in late December or early January following the end of the high school season and which includes many tournaments out to Memorial Day weekend and beyond, some of which are out of town.

With the safety issues involving the sport and potential overuse of athletes between school and club play, there is a possibility the local regional governing office or some member clubs could institute such rules if a season overlaps, and if that happens, it should be expected many top athletes will opt for club play over school this coming season. Other sports with a club component where the seasons might overlap, including soccer, could also institute similar regulations, also with an emphasis on preventing potential safety issues due to overuse of athletes. So the WIAA, to prevent this, we believe needs to have sanctioning bodies for club athletics, such as USA Volleyball or US Youth Soccer, at the table as it figures out how best to navigate this uncharted territory. Additionally, top representatives of local club programs such as soccer’s Crossfire or Eastside FC or volleyball’s Kent Juniors, Sudden Impact or the Washington Volleyball Academy should also be allowed a chance to voice their input into these discussions. Do not view out-of-school club programs as competition, view them as an equal partner, and that will ultimately benefit student-athletes.

-High school athletes leaving Washington for other states: The announced move last night of Eastside Catholic boys’ basketball star player Nolan Hickman, which we reported on here earlier, is just the latest in a growing list of high-profile moves of star athletes, all from basketball, where the current COVID-19 restrictions and the shutdowns to youth sports in Washington, appear to have been a factor. And it is now becoming a growing concern in football, with Eastlake Coach Don Bartel discussing that potential in an interview last Wednesday with KJR’s Jason Puckett and Chris Egan during their morning radio show. We have been told off the record by a source of at least one player from a Kingco 4A high school contemplating a potential exit from Washington to another state should there be no football season, and we have also been told via Twitter by Mount Si college recruiting coordinator Myra Ozaeta she is also hearing of potential player movement as well should the football season be canceled here.

With Utah, the state Hickman will be heading to, announcing that high school sports will proceed as normal this fall last Thursday, that provides an option for families. But Nebraska also could be an appealing option, and they are already back open with football, with the state being host to a football all-star game yesterday that was attended by nearly 2,500 fans. Yes, as we’ve been telling you, they’re allowing fans to attend.

As we discussed previously, we don’t believe that there will be a mass exodus per se from Washington, but something about the potential Kingco 4A football player’s move did make us think a little bit. We have been told the player, if he does need to exit the state, would move in with extended family in the other state, and this also presents a option for families as well, as many high school athletes and their families here in Washington do have extended relatives – grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. – that live out of the state. Families could choose to allow their high school athletes to relocate out of state temporarily and live with those extended family members out of state, and that might satisfy necessary physical change of residence requirements in the other state without the athlete’s family needing to do that themselves.

With that said, if the Washington association does announce cancellation or severe rollback of season schedules, the potential for a mass exodus could be higher than we expect as a result. So the potential loss of turnout from that is also something that the WIAA will need to address, as this also will impact schools in terms of loss of actual student enrollment, and the resulting state money that comes with that.

A lot for officials on multiple levels to consider as they figure out the best way to move forward. With the expected announcement in about 10 days, families are now beginning the process of finalizing their plans should a cancellation or other drastic action be announced by the WIAA regarding high school sports. So we expect to see more of this, and everyone needs to be prepared, from high school coaches and administrators, on up to Gov. Inslee and Supt. Reykdal, for the fallout from any potential exodus of student-athletes from here in Washington. Again, as we’ve told you already, it may sound very crazy to some of you that families are going in this direction. Well, think again. The moves of Hickman, fellow EC hoopster Mjracle Sheppard and the Huard sisters (Haley, formerly at Eastlake, and Macey, formerly at Bear Creek School in Redmond) with this issue as a backdrop presumably in all of these show that it is happening now, and it’s only going to become larger as the decisions get closer.

We will of course continue to discuss this issue with you here in the Journal, but feel free to respond to this by replying here on the blog, or on our Twitter feed @snovalleysports.

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Gorrell gets a chance to play summer baseball, plus youth action and some hoops news…..

Good Sunday morning. We, as is normal at the moment, are leading off with a little college summer baseball, but instead of it being involving Mount Si alum Spencer Marenco and his Western Nebraska Pioneers of the Expedition League, it this morning features fellow Wildcat alumnus Gavin Gorrell and his Willmar Stingers of the Northwoods League.

Gorrell got his first work since the team’s return from a short hiatus this past week and held up well, pitching two innings for the Stingers in relief in a 5-2 win over the visiting St. Cloud Rox at home in Willmar, MN. Gorrell, currently working to help save his Boise State University baseball squad from being cut by the university, allowed a run on three hits, striking out one and receiving a “hold” for his efforts; a “hold” stat is one that is awarded for a pitcher who comes into a game holding a lead for his team, and leaves having maintained that lead.

Gorrell, as you all know, has been very busy the past several days during the layoff for his Stingers working to help save the Bronco program after the university announced its cut earlier this month. He has helped spearhead a fundraising effort via GoFundMe and also has done interviews with three major Boise television stations as part of these efforts; the most recent of these took place Friday with KIVI, the ABC network affiliate; he earlier in this effort did interviews as well with the city’s NBC and CBS stations (KTVB and KBOI respectively). That GoFundMe effort has raised over $67,000 with additional funding also being secured in other ways.

Willmar is on the road today for a game with the Waterloo Bucks in Waterloo, IA.

Time for youth softball and baseball on a Sunday with all of your scores and highlights powered by Gamechanger and the Gamechanger app, available on Apple IPhones and IPads in their app store.

Youth Softball
Northwest Lady Bandits 18U 4, North Central WA Sun Devils 0: Mount Si’s Ginger Harris powered the Bandits to the win over the Wenatchee-based team at a tournament over in Post Falls, ID. Harris went 2-2 with a run scored and RBI for the Kirkland-based Bandits.

Absolute Blast Miller 16U 4, Washington Ladyhawks Hirai 18U 4 (game one, doubleheader): The Woodinville and Bellevue-based teams played two yesterday with the first ending in a draw. Mount Si’s Jackalyn Gates aided Blast, going 1-1 with two walks and a run driven in, while Bothell’s Morgan Shults powered the ‘Hawks, going 1-1 with two runs driven in and a walk as well.

Northwest Lady Bandits 18U 6, Washington Angels 1: The Bandits handled the Tri-Cities based Angels over in Post Falls with Haley Brown leading the way, going 2-3 with a double and run scored. Harris went 0-1 but walked once, reached on an error in a second plate appearance and scored runs both times.

Absolute Blast 16U Miller 11, Washington Ladyhawks Hirai 18U 7 (game two, doubleheader): This one was a tale of two halves with a lot of offense in the first part of the game before pitching dominated the second part in the slugfest won by the Blast. Gates was 0-4 for AbB but Bothell’s Brooke Baker led a balanced offensive attack for Blast, going 3-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and two more driven in. Jillian Hampson led the ‘Hawks going 2-2 with three runs scored and an RBI.

Youth Baseball
Northwest Naturals 18U 6, Spokane Expos 4: Chandler Tuupo homered to power a 3-4 afternoon for the Sammamish-based Nats as they held off the Spokane team over in Lewiston, ID. Cole Norah led the Mount Si contingent with a double, run scored and RBI for NWN, while fellow Wildcats Dawson Schneider (1-4), Cam Ferreri (0-4, RBI) and Jack Phillips (no official at-bats) also played for Northwest.

Kirkland Merchants Premier 18U 6, Hanford Flames 1: Merchants won their Lewiston clash with the Tri-Cities-based Flames despite just four hits. Austin Santiago led KMP going 1-3 with a walk, run scored and RBI. The Merchants feature a large number of Kingco ballplayers primarily from the Lake Washington and Northshore School Districts.

Eastside Dodgers 9, Northwest Naturals 18U 4: A different group of Wildcats, paced by Hayden Weaver’s double and two RBI’s, paced the Nats in this one but they fell short to the Tri-Cities-based squad last night in their Lewiston nightcap. Phillips was 1-3 while Tyler Disch went 0-4. He did pitch and allowed a run with out the benefit of a hit. He received no decision.

Also this morning:

Basketball: Major triumph for former Kingco girls’ hoops star
Former Eastlake High School girls’ basketball star Haley Huard last night recorded her first major accomplishment on the basketball floor since moving to Colorado earlier this month, helping her club team secure a tournament title in Denver.

Huard and her Colorado Premier Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) club squad won the 5280 Tournament against a field of teams which included a number of boys’ squads. The team is coached by former NBA player, and a great Twitter follow for you basketball folks out there, Keith Van Horn, and Huard joined the Premier following her family’s move to Colorado. Haley’s sister Macey also plays for the Premier program, and both young ladies will be playing their high school ball this winter for Valor Christian High School in the south Denver suburbs.

As you may remember, the Huard family’s exit from Washington generated some headlines a couple of weeks ago and a commentary from us here; the move was prompted by a job change for Haley and Macey’s father Brock, a former UW and NFL football quarterback and current football media analyst, but the current COVID-19 restrictions in Washington and their impact on youth and high school sports have also earned Brock’s ire in recent weeks, also factoring in perhaps to the move.

A congrats from us here to Haley, her teammates and coach Van Horn, and the Premier on this accomplishment.

Another high-profile hoops exit that could also be tied to the potential uncertainty for high school sports in Washington: SBLive Washington reported last night that a top Eastside Catholic High School boys’ hoopster has also announced his departure from the state, but where it is he’s going also raises the specter of it also being tied in some way to the current COVID-19 situation in Washington and the uncertainty for high school sports here as a result.

Point guard Nolan Hickman, set to be a senior this fall at EC, located in Sammamish, took to his Twitter feed to announce his move to the Wasatch Academy, a Utah-based prep school. Utah, as we told you on Thursday, has announced that high school sports in that state will proceed as normal this fall, and that ignited a little bit of media interest here in Washington, including from us, as that state now becomes a potential destination for athletes and families here should the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announce later this month a long-term delay or cancellation of high school sports due to the pandemic here in Washington. As you know, the WIAA this past week announced a two-week delay in the start of fall sports as it tries to figure out how to more fully proceed.

Hickman has a number of Division I college offers, including to the University of Washington, and he told SBLive that the school’s national-caliber schedule in light of the lack of current summer activities due to the pandemic and resulting shutdowns was an appealing factor for him in making the move.

Hickman’s exit marks the second high-profile departure of a top basketball player from EC in the past couple of weeks; girls’ top player Mjracle Sheppard announced her exit from the Sammamish private school around the same time the Huard’s announced their exit from Washington mentioned in the previous story. She will be going to an academy in Florida.

If the football season is delayed or canceled, it is expected a number of Washington players will likely move to other states. We’ll keep you posted if any Mount Si or Cedarcrest players make that decision.

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Marenco delivers again, plus news from the youth front as we bring you some Saturday diamond cuts

Good Saturday morning. Baseball this morning, and it continues to be a strong stretch for North Bend’s Spencer Marenco, and it’s helping his college summer baseball team get back above water in this early part of the Expedition League season.

Marenco, a 2019 Mount Si HS grad playing collegiately for Yakima Valley CC, went 2-4 with three runs scored last night, as his Western Nebraska Pioneers took a 12-0 lead after five innings and cruised to a 12-3 shellacking of the Fremont Moo in Fremont, NE, giving the Pios a sweep of the brief two-game set starting their eastern Nebraska weekend road swing. Western Nebraska has now won three straight after losing six in a row, so they are finding their way back to the .500 mark slowly but surely. Marenco, for his part, has seen his average almost double during the course of the week, upping it with the efforts last night to a crisp .394.

The Pios made the trek last night down to Hastings, NE, and will meet the host Sodbusters tonight and tomorrow. Today’s game is a 4:30 start our time and you can find the game, along with all Pios games the rest of the way if you want to hop on and support Marenco on the TuneIn app on your phones or tablets. With the app, search KOZY-FM for the broadcast.

From Mount Si baseball alums past to current Wildcats now on the diamond…

Naturals 18U’s fall to Kirkland rival: The bats from the Sammamish-based Northwest Naturals were cold last night, as their Eastside rival Kirkland Merchants Premier limited the Nats to just one hit – a homer from Issaquah High School’s Colin Curry – and handed NWN’s 18U squad a 7-1 loss in a tournament opener over in Lewiston, ID.

Mount Si’s Dawson Schneider started on the hill for Northwest and allowed four runs on five hits walking two and striking out two in four innings of work, taking the loss. It was the two opposing pitchers from the Merchants who shined, as Parker Wyman and Jaxon Henderson combined on the one-hitter, striking out a total of seven between them.

Schneider, Cam Ferreri, Hayden Weaver, Jack Phillips and Tyler Disch made up the Mount Si Nats contingent last night, all receiving at-bats in the contest. The tournament continues today over in Idaho, which remains at phase four of their state reopening plan despite an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state which is threatening that status. Gov. Brad Little this week announced a continuance of the phase four status, allowing for youth sports in the state to continue. However, if the case counts continue to be a problem, certain areas of the state, particularly urban centers such as Boise, Nampa and Coeur D’Alene, could see their status revert to lower levels, preventing youth tournaments from taking place in those areas.

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Diamond notes, and an update on fall high school sports and how decisions both locally and nationally at high school and college levels could impact Washington athletes

Good Friday morning.

Busy morning for you and we start on the college baseball summer circuit for you and it was another strong night for North Bend’s Spencer Marenco last night. Coming off his 3-4 effort in Wednesday night’s game for his Western Nebraska Pioneers in their win over the opposing Hastings Sodbusters, Marenco was on the field again last night for the Pios as they opened an eastern Nebraska weekend road swing against the Fremont Moo. Well, the 2019 Mount Si High School grad offered up an encore.

The Yakima Valley CC player went 3-5 with two runs scored and an RBI as Western Nebraska took a 9-0 fifth-inning lead after scoring six runs in that frame, then needed a couple of stellar plays from Marenco defensively later in the game to help hold off the host Moo 12-9 in front of slightly over 300 fans at Moller Field in Fremont, NE, located just northwest of Omaha. As we have noted in past Pios coverage, fans are permitted to attend games in the state as per Nebraska’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

The win was the Pios’ second straight after a six-game losing streak dropped them to under .500 on the season, and Marenco’s strong performance the last two nights has lifted his batting average, which had been as low as .200 just a few days ago, up to a crisp .379. So perhaps with a hot bat, Mount Si fans supporting Marenco from afar will get to catch him in action again tonight as the two teams continue their series this evening. It’s a 5:00 first pitch and you can find it on the TuneIn app on your phone or tablet, search KOZY-FM.

Also of note from last night’s game were two other items. First, Spencer’s father Jose tells us that former Valley resident Cooper Morrison is playing for the Moo, and he saw action last night, going 2-5 and he is hitting .273 this summer for Fremont. We’re checking, but we believe Morrison played this spring for UC Davis in California, and was a graduate of a high school in the San Francisco Bay area. Morrison resided in the Valley as a youngster. Also, Spencer’s teammate Josh Davis, he a Bothell HS alum, left the game midway through after getting hit by a pitch, the first of three straight hit batsmen for Western Nebraska that were factors in that six-run fifth. Davis hurt his wrist and we are checking on his status now for you Cougar faithful. Davis finished the game 0-2. Our best to him for a speedy recovery.

CHS alum Davenport set for summer debut, after academic recognition by college conference: This summer was expected to be one of rest and relaxation for Cedarcrest High School alum Aaron Davenport. Davenport, set to be a sophomore again this fall at the University of Hawaii after his sophomore season this spring was wiped out due to the NCAA’s cancellation of spring sports following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, was slated to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League before that summer college league became one of many to cancel their seasons due to the continued outbreak. So he has been home taking care of his parents, but an opportunity for him opened up and he will be playing this season after all.

The Portland Pickles offered him that opportunity, and Davenport told us last night he is slated to start their season opener tomorrow. The Pickles are part of the West Coast League, a separate college summer circuit, but the WCL, like the Cape Cod league, canceled its season due to COVID-19. So the Pickles banded together with several other Portland-area teams to form a league for this summer called the Wild West League and they will be playing starting tomorrow. The Pickles will be playing another Portland team, the Gherkins, in the game tomorrow night, which will be held at a Salem-area high school and have fans present – health officials are permitting a cap of 200 attendees at games. YouTube and Facebook Live will also have the game online for free for those here in the Valley who want to cheer on the 2018 CHS’er. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.

Valley fans will want to tune in to support Davenport, not only because he is getting it done on the field, but he is getting it done in the classroom and repping his high school alma mater very well in the process. Davenport was announced yesterday as one of nine Warriors baseball players to receive the Big West conference’s All-Academic honor, awarded to athletes earning better than a 3.0 grade point average in classroom studies at the UH campus in Honolulu, studies that for the majority of this spring semester were done all-online due to campus closures caused by the pandemic. So good work by Aaron, and we wish him luck tomorrow.

Fall high school sports plans nationally come into focus, potentially affecting Washington
There were several developments yesterday at both the high school and college levels both locally and nationally regarding plans for fall sports that could potentially have an impact here in Washington.

As you know, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced earlier this week the delay of the fall high school sports season in Washington until at least September 5 due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Evergreen State, a rise which has put on hold the state’s reopening plans. The move has fueled continued uncertainty about whether a season will actually occur this fall, and that has left families perhaps looking for options outside of Washington.

Well, an option came open yesterday for those families. The state of Utah’s high school athletic association voted to proceed with a normal fall sports season in that state, despite continued concerns about a rise of cases in that state; to that end, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that some areas, such as around Salt Lake City, are at a higher risk level as per state reopening plans, so seasons at those schools may not start on time. This is important as families from Washington and other states that may contact Utah officials about potentially transferring into that state for high school sports opportunities for their kids this fall will likely look at schools around Salt Lake and other urban areas around the I-15 core. Gov. Gary Herbert announced a full mask requirement for schools in the state if they do reopen on time this fall, as is currently slated.

Other states also are making decisions – New Mexico announced a shift of their fall sports to the spring of 2021 and there was also national play of comments made by the Dallas, TX, school superintendent in which he suggested that Texas high school football may not have a season this fall, comments which are likely to cause a major uproar in the state and also reverberate nationally, as Texas is a likely destination for top players from so-called “closed” states wanting to transfer to play this fall.

Back here in Washington, a clue about a possible decision may have come from the Northwest Athletic Conference, the regional conference covering community colleges in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. They announced a suspension of sports except for cross country until after the start of 2021, with cross country expected to occur as normal this fall with restrictions. There has been conjecture we have heard in some quarters the WIAA may lean in this direction as well, but issues such as how you deal with multi-sport athletes at schools eligibility-wise, an issue likely to be a bigger factor for a school such as Cedarcrest as opposed to Mount Si, and this transfer question as we’ve discussed above. And if you think the idea of kids and their families leaving the state for high school sports is crazy, think again.

The issue has, as you know, received attention from us over the past few weeks, and got some airtime on Wednesday during an interview KJR radio hosts Chris Egan and Jason Puckett did with Eastlake High School football coach Don Bartel, an interview and subsequent post-interview segment you can listen to here with the appropriate IHeart Radio login. Additionally, this issue may have played a factor in the recent exit of the Huard sisters, Macey and Haley, along with their parents, former UW Husky QB Brock and his wife Molly, also a former UW athlete, from the Seattle area to Colorado, where the two girls will play basketball for a private school in the Denver area. So it is out there, and while most families likely will not exercise this option, as it would require a complete physical exit from Washington to the other state for residence and employment purposes, that it is out there means it’s something schools, coaches and fans need to keep an eye on. If we hear of any high-profile exits of Valley athletes due to the pandemic and the season start delay, we’ll let you know.

The WIAA is scheduled to announce further guidance on the subject July 22, and it is after that date that families looking to exit may do so.

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