The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association — the primary governing authority of high school sports in the state — announced modifications to the 2020-21 sports season calendar …
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association — the primary governing authority of high school sports in the state — announced modifications to the 2020-21 sports season calendar July 21 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The alterations will create four WIAA-sanctioned seasons and will also move moderate- and high-risk team sports, including football, originally scheduled to take place in the fall season, to the WIAA Season 3, in the early spring.
“Since March, the philosophy of our association has been to allow students every chance to participate,” said WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman.
“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.”
According to WIAA officials, the fall sports of cross country and slowpitch softball, as well as alternative seasons for golf and tennis, have been determined to consist of WIAA Season 1 and will each begin practices the week of Sept. 7.
The viability of girls’ swim & dive taking place in WIAA Season 1, the said, is dependent on more information from the state Department of Health.
The remaining fall sports are now scheduled to begin in the early spring of 2021, as part of WIAA Season 3.
Port Townsend High School Athletic Director Patrick Gaffney called the decision “progress” in what has thus far been a less than assured process.
“It’s a lot better to have something out there we can start to plan around,” Gaffney said, while also admitting, “I in no way feel like it’s the final word.”
Last week, the board recognized that much themselves, saying participation in any fall sports will depend on county progression through the phases laid out in
Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan over the coming weeks.
“The executive board will create benchmarks on July 28 to be met in order for WIAA Season 1 to take place,” according to the WIAA announcement. “If the benchmarks are not met, the board will plan to move the remainder of fall sports to WIAA Season 3.”
Gaffney said he’s spoken with many coaches and students, all of them eager to return to school and sports, and said he was “cautiously optimistic” they’d get their wish.
“Nobody really wants to come out and say we’re not playing sports,” Gaffney said. “A reduced schedule is better than nothing.”
Traditional winter sports will all take place in WIAA Season 2, with the expectation to begin in late December or early January. Traditional spring sports will occupy WIAA Season 4, to end the school year.
The moving of football to the spring, Gaffney said, is probably the largest change of the revised schedule — though not exactly a surprise.
“Even before the schedule came out, it was going to move it or loss with football,” he said. “I’m glad they moved it, at least that gives us some hope.”
“I think it’s the best plan we can come up with for now,” he added.
Chimacum Junior/Senior High School Athletic Director Carrie Beebe praised the WIAA for their handling of the developing situation.
“WIAA has done a great job of keeping athletic directors and school districts informed about their decisions,” Beebe said. “We have known that this new season layout was an option on the table. While we believe sports and extra curricular activities are very important for students, their safety takes precedent.”
The revised WIAA season schedule now consists of:
Season 1 - cross country, slowpitch softball, girls swim & dive, golf (alternative season), and tennis (alternative season);
Season 2 - basketball, bowling, boys swim & dive, gymnastics, cheerleading, and wrestling;
Season 3 - volleyball, girls soccer, 1B/2B boys soccer, and football;
Season 4 - tennis, fastpitch softball, track & field, baseball, golf, boys soccer, and dance/drill.
Visit www.wiaa.com for more information.