The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association revamped its high-school sports calendar again Wednesday as it continues to try to get sports on the field this academic year.
The WIAA’s Executive Board, made up of 13 school administrators from across the state, decided the traditional fall sports season can begin with practice Feb. 1. Those sports include football, girls soccer, volleyball, cross country and girls swimming and diving among others.
The fall season, which the WIAA is calling Season 1, is scheduled for seven weeks, ending on March 20. Winter sports and spring sports are still TBD.
Of course, any teams hitting the field next month will be contingent on the state’s guidance on coronavirus protocols.
The changes come after Gov. Jay Inslee announced new guidelines for the state on Tuesday, which use new metrics the WIAA will use for return to play.
“The change in guidelines allow all traditional fall sports to be played in Phase 2 while we still do not have a clear pathway to the high-risk indoor activities of basketball, competitive cheer and dance, and wrestling,” WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman said in a news release. “With that in mind, moving fall sports to Season 1 will hopefully provide the most opportunities to participate.”
In July, the WIAA reorganized the sports calendar and put the traditional fall sports between the winter and spring seasons. Basketball and wrestling, which are categorized as higher risk as they are indoors, were supposed to start Feb. 1 (which was pushed back from original Dec. 28 start).
While the WIAA has set the new seasons, it also reaffirms that there are other options.
Before the holidays, the WIAA formalized a process that will largely leave sports in the hands of the many leagues around the state for the rest of academic year. The WIAA has given the leagues complete flexibility for creating seasons, but they do have to be approved by Hoffman and comply with state coronavirus mandates.
Casey Johnson, the WIAA’s sports and activities information director, said the WIAA has received only one proposal and that was from the Northwest Conference, which spans Whatcom and Skagit counties. That league wanted to start playing fall sports next month.
The (Everett) Herald reported last month that the WesCo is considering a similar plan starting Feb. 22.
Leagues going ahead solo would likely not have postseason options beyond their own league. The WIAA announced in November it would go with regional championships rather than state championships.
The WIAA said it is still working with the Department of Health to learn more about the guidelines and how they impact high-school sports.
“We are hoping to receive more details that were not included in the Governor’s announcement on Tuesday, particularly surrounding indoor sports and activities,” Hoffman said in a release. “As we continue to gather more information and evaluate the new metrics, the Board will be able to make better decisions about the remainder of the year.”
- The WIAA Executive Board decided to keep the open coaching period “until the day before the first season begins at that school.”