WIAA shuffles sports seasons once again

Pullman quarterback Carson Coulter throws a pass against West Valley in 2019. The WIAA on Wednesday shuffled its sports seasons, and set a Feb. 1 start date for Washington high school fall sports practices to begin.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association executive board released updated guidance late Wednesday, and has shuffled seasons once again. The traditional fall sports season, which had been scheduled for March 15-May 2, can begin pre-competition practices Feb. 1.

That season — which includes cross country, football, slowpitch softball, boys’ Class 1B and 2B soccer and girls’ soccer, as well as girls’ swimming and diving, volleyball, plus alternate seasons for golf and tennis — now is tentatively scheduled to run through the week of March 15-21, when the WIAA will conduct regional culminating events.

The change comes amid a revised plan Gov. Jay Inslee released Tuesday, called the Healthy Washington plan. Under the new protocols, the state is broken up into eight regions, and those regions must meet four metrics in order to advance to the next phase. Each region will begin in Phase 1. In order to advance to the next phase, regions must show: a 10 percent decreasing trend in case rates during the previous two-week period; a 10 percent decrease in COVID-19 hospital admission rates in the same 14-day period; an intensive care unit occupancy rate that’s at less than 90 percent; and a positivity rate of testing of less than 10 percent.

In a release, the WIAA said sports will maintain their previously assigned risk levels, but the level of activity will vary between Phases 1 and 2.

The guidance did not have an update on the traditional winter sports season nor an update on the traditional spring season. Those decisions will be made at the board’s next meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Renton on Jan. 19. Also at the meeting, the board voted to extend the coaching period to the day before the first season begins.

“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 the release. “With that in mind, moving fall sports to Season 1 will hopefully provide the most opportunities to participate.”

Under the WIAA’s previous plan released in mid-November, the winter sports season tentatively was set to begin Jan. 25 with gymnastics. The remainder of the sports — basketball, bowling, boys’ swimming and diving, and wrestling — were slated to start Feb. 1. That season was set to conclude March 21. The fall season tentatively was to begin with football on March 8, with the remainder of the sports starting March 15. The regional culminating events would have taken place the week of April 26. The final season, the traditional spring sports season — which includes baseball, fastpitch softball and track, among others — tentatively was set to start the week of April 26 with culminating events the week of June 13.

Walden may be reached at (208) 848-2258, dwalden@lmtribune.com, or on Twitter at @waldo9939.

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