WIAA makes it official, changing high school sports calendar in WA in response to COVID-19 outbreak…and we actually have a game as well to talk about!!!

Good Wednesday morning.

High school sports athletes, coaches, families and fans are reacting in mixed fashion this morning to the much-anticipated news that came down from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Associaiton last night that the association’s Executive Board voted to modify the upcoming 2020-21 high school sports calendar, and shift most of the fall sports season to spring of next year as the state continues to fight COVID-19.

The association voted to split the sports calendar into four seasons as opposed to the traditional three, compressing all of them and also creating some overlap in schedules which could force some athletes to choose between sports if they are multi-sport athletes.

In a statement, WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman discussed the changes. “Since March, the philosophy of our Association has been to allow students every chance to participate,” Hoffman said. “We’ve asked our Executive Board and planning committees to be as creative as possible in allowing for those opportunities. These are tough and unprecedented decisions to make, but it has been inspiring to see so many people around the state come together to work on behalf of students.”

The sports seasons are expected to now consist of the following for Mount Si and Cedarcrest High Schools:

Fall (September 7-November 8): Cross Country (both), Boys’ Golf and Tennis (Mount Si), girls’ swim (Mount Si, to be determined by state Department of Health)

Winter (January 4-March 7): All regular winter sports at both schools

Fall/Spring (February 22/March 1-May 9): Volleyball, Girls’ Soccer, Football (both), girls’ swim (Mount Si, if state DoH determines they can’t go in fall)

Spring (April 26-June 27): All traditional spring sports at both schools

In a media briefing following the vote, the WIAA stressed this schedule is fluid and could change based on conditions on the ground as it pertains to the spread of the virus around the state. They added that counties would have to be in a phase three situation for those traditional fall sports to occur. Board President Greg Whitmore told reporters, “I don’t think there was anyone in the virtual board room that felt we could get the high-risk sport of football played in the fall.”

There were several other items mentioned out of the news conference, which you can see here in its entirety as the WIAA posted it to YouTube. The news conference lasts a little under an hour.

-Regionalized state championships: There is a possibility with the compressed playoff schedule that instead of traditional state champions, it may be a more regionalized format this school year, and Hoffman, to the idea of several state champions in sports this year said, “so be it.” What this likely would entail would be perhaps bi-district tournaments that would serve as those regional state tournaments, meaning most likely you’d see the Northwest and Sea-King districts likely pair up in one of those, or perhaps those two and the West Central District.

-Impact of schools going all-online: The Kent School District’s announcement Monday they were going to start the year with full online learning for all students likely forced the WIAA’s hand as the whole idea of normalized fall sports was predicated on students being in class for in-person instruction around the state. Hoffman told reporters that during the meeting, the board received word several other school districts, of which those were not revealed, were planning on following Kent’s lead to go all-online. This is forcing the WIAA now to review whether they’ll even be able to do the traditional fall schedule. They are working with school district superintendents on that issue.

-COVID protocol: Asked about that, the WIAA indicated that if a player, coach, or official of a game a team participates in ends up testing positive for the virus, that will likely force that team to shut operations down for two weeks for quarantine regardless of potential exposure to athletes. To that end, the question was also asked about potential spectators at matches, which is expected to be the case in other states this fall, the WIAA said they’ll leave it up to the state to make that decision, adding that a sport such as cross country may be more flexible in allowing that with that sport being the most obvious one that can be modified for the required social distancing as this fight continues.

-Officials: SBLive Washington’s Todd Milles reported on Twitter during the news conference that the Washington Officials Association, which is the sanctioning arm for WIAA high school sports game officials, indicated that 30% of their membership did not feel comfortable working in this current COVID-19 environment. With many officials, including a lot who work games involving Mount Si and Cedarcrest High School athletics, being older and likely in higher-risk groups for complications from the virus, there could be an officials’ shortage looming this school year which will make scheduling much more challenging for leagues and schools. This will be something to watch during the course of the coming school year.

-Football players potentially double-dipping: With other states, including Texas and Florida, expected to have normal fall seasons, there has been a belief, which we have espoused on repeatedly here in past coverage of this subject, that a number of players could transfer out of Washington in order to play elsewhere this fall. Currently, there are no rules barring those athletes from coming back to Washington following the other state’s season to compete here. The association, according to Milles, indicated they might have emergency rules forthcoming on this subject, but it is likely they may be waiting to see how much player movement there is first before proceeding. We and other media are hearing rumors of potential high-profile player movement, but as of now, none involving any of Mount Si or Cedarcrest High Schools. We’ll keep you posted if we get any news on that front.

Reaction as you might guess is mixed. Noted Seattle media personality – and FOX Sports college football analyst – Brock Huard, who has been, as we’ve told you previously, very outspoken on this subject, took to Twitter very disappointed with the decision. He wrote, “Tonight is not the night for me to react to the decisions being forced on our young people as emotional as I am. At some point, the time will be right.” Huard and his family, including daughters Haley and Macey, are currently in the process of leaving Washington and moving to the Denver, CO, area. Haley and Macey, as we’ve told you, will both be playing for Valor Christian High School’s girls’ basketball team in suburban Denver this coming season. Reaction to the tweet was pretty split with a lot of people criticizing Huard for his take.

A lot to unpack here and we’ll continue to follow it for you.

Meanwhile, we do have one baseball item for you from the scoreboard:

Boss Baseball (Bend) 13, Kirkland Merchants Elite 18U 6: Normally at this time of year, Vince Genna Stadium down in Bend, OR, would be hosting the West Coast League’s Bend Elks college summer baseball team. Well, instead, thanks to the pandemic and the cancellation of the WCL schedule, Genna has been pretty quiet all summer. That changed last night as the host Boss side scored 12 unanswered runs over the final two frames to rally from a 6-1 hole for the win in the first of three against the Kirkland team. A doubleheader today finishes out the series. Alex Vierra and Kobe Koehler paced the Merchants, going 2-3 with two RBI’s each. The Kirkland team is made up primarily of players from the Lake Washington and Northshore School Districts.

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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