Everett’s Cavan Campbell celebrates after making a defensive stop during a game against Meadowdale on Oct. 11, 2019, at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Everett’s Cavan Campbell celebrates after making a defensive stop during a game against Meadowdale on Oct. 11, 2019, at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Wesco athletic directors approve return of high school sports

The move, which was made official Wednesday, will allow practices for tradition fall sports to begin Feb. 22.

It’s finally official.

Nearly a full calendar year since the last prep sports competitions occurred in Snohomish County, student-athletes in the area’s largest high school athletics conference have been given the green light to return to play.

Wesco athletic directors announced the approval of their three-season plan in a press release Wednesday.

“I think it would be an understatement to tell you that we’re beyond excited to provide an opportunity for our student-athletes,” Wesco president Don Dalziel told The Daily Herald. “That’s all any of us want, to give some of these kids a chance to go out and play. … For the student-athletes to have to deal with this (pandemic) in the middle of their high school seasons, I just can’t imagine how challenging it’s been.”

Practices for traditional falls sports — football, cross country, girls swim and dive, volleyball, boys tennis and girls soccer — begin Feb. 22 and competitions as early as March 1.

Dalziel said the league also approved team schedules at its meeting. Those can be expected to be made public in the coming weeks. Athletic directors still need to work out logistics, such as officiating and travel.

“We definitely have work in front of us,” Dalziel said, “but it’s the good kind of work that a lot of us athletic directors were hoping we were doing a long time ago.”

For now, fans will not be allowed to attend games when competition begins. Cheerleaders will be allowed at home events. School-based performance groups like band will be allowed at home events based on Washington State Department of Health recommendations. Home athletic directors will determine which performance groups can attend games based on capacity limitations. Credentialed media will also be allowed with prior approval.

Current guidelines in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Healthy Washington” recovery plan allow up to 200 people at outdoor sporting events and up to 200 people or 25% capacity, which ever is less, at indoor events. Those numbers include athletes, coaches, referees, other staff and fans.

“Our focus is clearly around providing an opportunity for student-athletes to compete,” Dalziel said. “If we look at football for example, if two teams show up with 70 kids each and its 140 total,” adding referees, coaches, cheerleaders and other event staffing brings that near 200 pretty quickly.

“If we can’t do it for football, it’s really difficult to tell the other sports you can,” he said.

Dalziel noted additional risk management and the potential for additional contact tracing as complications that could occur from allowing fans to attend games. He added that many event workers are in a high-risk age group, which could complicate event staffing as well.

“Management related to COVID is challenging enough just to do it with our student-athletes and coaches,” Dalziel said. “When we bring in a fan group… it creates additional challenges.”

Schools will attempt to live stream games to give parents and other fans the chance to watch online.

“That’s not a guarantee,” Dalziel said, “but everybody is going to be putting in the effort to try and make that work.”

Wesco will reevaluate the opportunity to allow fans in after officials, transportation, event staffing and other event planning is completed.

The league’s plan to returning to play calls for three, six-week seasons. Traditional spring sports — baseball, softball, girls tennis, golf, boys soccer and track and field — start practices March 30 and traditional winter sports — basketball, wrestling, girls bowling and boys swim and dive — begin practices May 3.

Basketball and wrestling, designated as high-risk indoor sports by the Washington State Department of Health, still aren’t eligible to begin competition after the Puget Sound Region — Snohomish, King and Pierce counties — moved to Phase 2 of the governor’s recovery plan.

The hope is that starting winter sports last will give the area time hit metrics that would allow those sports to begin. Those key benchmarks have yet to be released by the governor’s office.

“There’s a possibility that we won’t hit those metrics and then we’re going to have to make an adjustment,” Dalziel said, “whether that means we can’t offer those sports, basketball and wrestling, because they’re high-risk and indoor or we have to try and delay their season shortly. So what we have decided throughout this whole process is this situation is fluid and we have to be able to make adjustments as new information is given to us.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is hugged by center Austin Blythe, right, after Smith rushed for an 8-yard touchdown during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Grading the Seahawks’ 48-45 victory over the Lions

Geno Smith and the offense take home the top marks from a wild affair.

Marysville-Pilchuck’s Darren Johnson-Jones, left, tries to block a pass to Miguel Chavez, right, during football practice on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 in Marysville, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Football Game of the Week

Help pick one of the high school football games we cover Friday… Continue reading

Runners in the 3A-4A Boys 5K turn a corner as the sun sets during the Nike Twilight Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: 15th Annual Nike Twilight XC Invitational

Teams from across the Pacific Northwest descend on Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville for the major cross country meet.

Seattle Mariners, including Jarred Kelenic, foreground, Cal Raleigh, second from left, and another player celebrate with fans after the team's baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Seattle. The Mariners won 2-1 to clinch a spot in the playoffs. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Finally!: M’s end 21 years of misery by clinching playoff berth

Baseball is fun again in the Pacific Northwest in a way that it hasn’t been in more than two decades.

The Herald's prep football roundup. (Photo by Elaine Thompson)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 30

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Stanwood’s Ryder Bumgarner and teammates yell in celebration after winning the Stilly Cup for the first time in 13 years on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood rolls past Arlington, wins 1st Stilly Cup since 2009

Ryder Bumgarner runs for 246 yards and the unbeaten Spartans defeat their archrival for the 1st time in 13 years.

Sultan’s Derek Feltner takes a handoff from quarterback Westin Galle against Granite Falls on Friday, Sep. 30, 2022, at Sultan High School in Sultan, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sultan holds on in wild finish, beats rival Granite Falls

The Turks win the Black and Blue Bowl trophy for the first time since 2017.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, above, makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons safety Jaylinn Hawkins defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Preview: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions

The Seahawks hit the road to face the banged-up Lions in a matchup of 1-2 teams.

The AquaSox have the bases load in the first inning against the Vancouver Canadians Tuesday evening at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett June 29th, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Patterson: AquaSox’s facilities need major upgrade

Funko Field’s facilities aren’t up to MLB’s standards, so Everett’s time as a partner with the ESD will likely have to end.

Most Read