Hitting the hardwood on a Wednesday to discuss the fallout from major news affecting local girls’ high school basketball and what it could mean for all high school sports

Good morning. Time now to talk about another issue in the news this week, and this one concerns girls’ basketball.

Local high school girls’ basketball fans, particularly those supporting Mount Si’s girls’ basketball teams or others in the Kingco 4A Conference, woke up to the stunning news early Monday morning of the departure of two of the Eastside’s top high school stars. The folks at Prep Girls Hoops Washington reported the Huard sisters, Eastlake’s Haley and Bear Creek School’s Macey, along with their parents, mom Molly and dad Brock, would be leaving Washington and moving to Colorado, where the Huard sisters are expected to enroll at and play for one of that state’s top private school teams, Valor Christian in suburban Denver. That particular school is fairly well known for football, but is considered to have one of the best high school girls’ basketball teams in the western United States.

We have been told that the primary reason for the Huard’s departure is that Brock has obtained a new job in the Denver area. And frankly, there is an added bonus as well in that a Denver base of operations works better for him in relation to his television duties covering college football for FOX Sports; with Denver having a major hub airport he will be able to get to almost any Pac-12 or Big 12 city without needing to connect anywhere to do it, and also be able to do this for most Big 10 cities as well; those three conferences are covered by FOX so it is likely you could see more of Huard on broadcasts this fall if there is a college football season with this in mind. But we also have been made aware by a source familiar with the situation that there were other behind the scenes issues at play here, issues which, while we will not get into those here, do have us a bit concerned. Then there’s also the added issue of the current COVID-19 lockdowns in Washington and their impact on kids and youth sports, an issue Brock, as some of you may be aware, has been very outspoken about. So there’s definitely a lot here to think about.

Reaction to this has been shall we say interesting. In a Twitter chat about this subject, orchestrated by area coach Joshua Lovern, Lake Stevens High School coach Randall Edens offered criticism of the moves, which came on the heels of a high-profile exit of an Eastside Catholic player last week who is headed to a school in Florida. He questioned whether the players were going to get better opportunities moving elsewhere, then wrote this. “All three of those (players) could have been (top players) in their programs, lead by example types instead of getting lost in the shuffle with programs that are loaded with kids. Might not play as much, might not start…feel bad for teams left behind,” Edens wrote with edits for clarity. And while the coach, who is one of the more successful coaches in Wesco 4A and whose Viking team eliminated Mount Si from last season’s district playoffs, is not entirely wrong, the view fails to understand the situation on the ground as it currently exists, and it is one we want to discuss a bit with you now.

It specifically is tied to the current COVID-19 restart situation here in Washington and whether sports will start on time, or at all, at the high school level this fall. Now that school is out, some sports are starting back up, but to get games and actual practices in, teams are having to travel to places such as Idaho, who are further along in their reopening than major metro areas here in Washington. And while the WIAA announced state approval of their restart plan Monday, there’s a lot of unanswered questions still, and this columnist from the Spokane Spokesman-Review is cautioning against a quick return of sports this fall. So with that all said, and considering there are states that are open, we would suggest to Edens and coaches around the state in all sports that the potential does currently exist that we could see an exodus of athletes from Washington to other states as families begin to recognize that other states right now, simply by being open for business for youth sports, do provide those better opportunities.

We have seen at least two news stories where it has been reported athletes have moved or are considering moving across state lines in order to find opportunities to play; it happened a few weeks ago with a California family who traveled to Oklahoma so their daughter and her best friend could play club softball, and a top prep website down in Phoenix reported last week that high school athletic officials in that area have received feelers from athletes from outside Arizona – California and Illinois to be specific – inquiring about possible transfer into the state to play this fall. And as the summer drags on with no aggressive plan for moving forward other than edicts such as yesterday’s mask requirement announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee which we think was largely done in response to the situation over in Yakima County and the governor’s apparent desire to keep that from spreading elsewhere, and a lack of trust in both the governor and Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal by parents and others in the overall push to get schools fully reopened this fall with in-person instruction, many families with kids who are desperate to play and get out on the field or court will start to explore those options more fully and some may decide to pull the plug and just do it.

Whether the Huard’s announcement will spur more of this is anyone’s guess, but if it’s any guide, we are hearing that we may see this with football this fall here in Washington if there is no season. We urge coaches and others following high school sports to be mindful of this issue and continue to put pressure on lawmakers, the governor, Supt. Reykdal and the WIAA to ensure that high school sports can function normally this fall here in Washington because the costs to our state if that does not occur could be far-reaching.

Now as to the on-court implications of this for Mount Si. Haley Huard was anticipated to be the top returner this fall as a senior in Kingco 4A for Eastlake, so her departure shifts the balance of power in the Crest Division, with the Wildcats now likely to be contending for at minimum the division crown and a good seed into the Kingco postseason. Yes, the team lost Sela Heide to graduation, but it does get back both Gwen Aasland and Lauren Glazier to that post position and with the expected emergence of both Makayla Adams and Grace Turley, coach Jason Marr should have a team that will be ready to make noise in the 2020-21 season.

A lot to digest here so if you want to comment post a reply here in our comments section, email us at snovalleysports@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @snovalleysports.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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