The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association on Wednesday announced its executive board late Tuesday modified its previously condensed education-based activities calendar, shortened its seasons and moved the start to Feb. 1.
That is in response to rising coronavirus numbers and falls in line with Gov. Jay Inslee’s new restrictions on business and social gatherings he placed on the Evergreen State late Sunday.
“The WIAA has not canceled the season like they did in the spring, but you still feel bad for those kids,” Pullman athletic director Chris Franklin said. “I don’t think (canceling the season) will happen, but having a high schooler and middle schooler at home, I deal with this on a daily basis. Frustration is very high, but we just have to stay the course and try to hope everything works out in the way we’re planning for it to.”
It comes on the heels of Tuesday’s release by the WIAA saying it was shutting down all practices and activities, with the minor exception of swimming, for a period of four weeks. That period ends Dec. 18.
The WIAA’s new plan has organized athletics beginning Feb. 1, with Season 2 activities, and ending June 13, with the culmination of Season 4 activities.
Season 2 activities, with risk categories in parentheses, are: basketball (high), bowling (moderate), gymnastics (moderate), boys’ swimming and diving (low) and wrestling (high). Season 3 activities are cheerleading (high), cross country (low), football (high), slow-pitch softball (moderate), girls’ and Class 1B and 2B boys’ soccer (moderate), girls’ swimming and diving (low), volleyball (moderate), golf (alternate season, low) and tennis (alternate season, low). Season 4 activities are baseball (moderate), dance/drill (high), fast-pitch softball (moderate), golf (low), boys’ Class 1A-4A soccer (moderate), tennis (low) and track and field (low).
Season 2 activities now are scheduled to run from Feb. 1-March 20, with the exception of gymnastics, which can commence Jan. 25. Season 3 activities start March 15 and run through May 1, with the exception of football, which is March 8-May 9. Season 4 activities begin April 26 and continue to June 12.
The plan still is to have some kind of culminating event, be it regional or state competition, but that is dependent on various guidelines that must be met.
Under the WIAA’s original revised plan for condensed seasons it released at the end of July, Season 2 activities were set to run from Dec. 28-Feb. 27, Season 3 activities were scheduled from March 1-May 1 (with the exception of football, which was scheduled from Feb. 17-May 8), and Season 4 activities were scheduled from April 26-June 26.
So the WIAA, in essence, chopped seven weeks off (five from the front end) the schedule. Basically, it boils down to most schools have time to just complete a league season before heading into tournament play.
“Our league is on schedule X, Y or Z now,” Franklin said. “I don’t know how many schedules we’ve put out there for different things. But there is hope. We’ve been at this for 10 months, and in the 10 years that I’ve been an AD this is the hardest I’ve worked.”
One of the other things these athletic directors are trying to do is getting the kids in the right frame of mind. Mental health has been one of the biggest issues out there with some student-athletes. For the ones on the Washington side, it’s seeing their friends on the Idaho side of the border having the chance to play sports this fall and seeing culminating events.
Meanwhile, the kids on the other side of the river haven’t had the opportunity to play. That can take a toll on those athletes.
“Kids want to be out there,” Franklin said. “Kids are more resilent than adults, as we all know. I worry more about our coaches because our coaches rely upon this as well. Our hands are really tied based off of what is happening in our county and our state.”
Franklin does have one message for those in the community.
“I just hope everybody takes care of themselves,” he said. “Some of the choices people make are impacting schools and kids and their mental health because, you know, having get-togethers at people’s houses are causing problems. However people are catching this is causing a problem, and hopefully we can see an end to this soon.”
Donn Walden may be reached at (208) 848-2258, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @waldo9939.