Last Wednesday the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) changed its plan for high school sports reopening in response to the new “Roadmap to Recovery” announced by Gov. Jay Inslee the previous day.
Inslee’s new framework provides for most school sports to start once a region has met certain covid metrics. But it makes no provision for sports such as basketball and wrestling, which are both indoors and deemed “high risk,” until the pandemic has ended.
In response, WIAA revamped its calendar. The calendar previously called for basketball and wrestling to start practice on Feb. 1 with that season ending on March 20. In the latest announcement, it substituted a slate consisting mostly of traditional fall sports — including football, soccer, cross-country, volleyball and golf — into the Feb. 1-March 20 season. That leaves to be determined the scheduling of spring sports — track, baseball, softball — and the winter sports that Inslee’s policy puts in doubt.
But for now, all regions of the state are in the Roadmap’s Phase One. Only regions that have made it to Phase Two will be allowed to play. The Roadmap places Pacific County in a region with Grays Harbor, Thurston and Lewis counties. Phase Two rules limit spectators to 200 in outdoor sporting events and 25% capacity for indoors.
The WIAA set up its own separate regional system earlier this year to crown champions of multi-league regions. But WIAA director Mick Huffman said Monday that most leagues are just setting up league playoffs, foregoing regionals.
Naselle High School athletic director Brian Macy said schools in the Comets’ 1B leagues are just focused on getting games in. That means flexible scheduling rather than a focus on league standings. Many Comet league opponents are in different “regions” on the governor’s map. If a team from Battle Ground can’t play volleyball one week, “maybe we call up Willapa Valley and see if they want to play.”
Ilwaco AD Tim Harrell said District IV may hold 2B volleyball playoffs. Ilwaco would play a 10-game volleyball schedule, a five or six-game football schedule and a cross country season with six meets, including League and District meets. Ilwaco will also play a golf season and a boys soccer season.
The WIAA announcement, released quickly after the Governor’s Roadmap, said the organization still sought clarity from the state regarding high-risk indoor sports such as basketball, and that these sports would be discussed at the organization’s Jan. 19 meeting. Hoffman said Monday that they still await further information on these sports and the spectator limits.
Hoffman said that if Phase Two hasn’t started by Feb. 22, the WIAA will consider the step it has so far avoided — officially cancelling some sports seasons to avoid compressing any one season too much. Harrell notes that many athletes at big schools play only one sport, which is why cancellation is a last resort. The WIAA did give leagues and districts the authority to do this, and District IV discussed this but decided against it, Harrell said. Macy added that spring sports may be considered the highest priority, as they did not have a season last year.