The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced plans for Seasons 2 and 3 of the 2021 prep sports calender Tuesday evening, following a similar path set forth by Wesco athletic directors in December.
The schedule puts traditional spring sports — baseball, golf, Class 1A-4A boys soccer, softball, tennis and track and field — in Season 2, with practices beginning March 15 and the season ending May 1.
Traditional winter sports — basketball, wrestling, boys swim and dive, girls bowling and gymnastics — are set to start with practices April 26 to open Season 3. The season ends June 12.
“Based on the risk levels assigned to traditional winter activities compared to traditional spring activities, the Executive Board made the decision that those spring activities will have the opportunity to play much earlier than winter activities,” WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman said in a press release. “The Board will continue to monitor the status of activities over the coming months to ensure that those traditional spring sports receive a chance to participate.”
Those new dates may not mean much for local student-athletes and coaches.
Wesco, which encompasses the majority of Snohomish County’s schools, had its own plan for a return to play approved by the WIAA on Jan. 13.
The league’s schedule starts with traditional fall sports — football, volleyball, girls soccer, boys tennis, girls swim and dive and cross country — practices on Feb. 22. The season is set to end April 3.
Spring sports are schedule March 29 through May 8 and winter sports May 3 through June 12.
Each season is scheduled to be six weeks long, with competition beginning in the second week. The league isn’t planning on holding any culminating events, and a pair of backup plans have been laid out in the event a sport’s season has to be cancelled.
Wesco athletic directors will meet Feb. 1 to make a decision on the start of the fall sports season. That decision will be made based on COVID-19 benchmark numbers set forth by Gov. Jay Inslee and approval from school district superintendents.
“It’s an important clarifier for us to mention,” Wesco president Don Dalziel said. “Because athletic directors can put a plan together, but ultimately superintendents need to give us their blessing in order for us to be able to participate.”
Lakewood High School will join Wesco on a one-year basis, Cougars football and baseball coach Dan Teeter told KRKO 1380 AM’s “Prep Sports Weekly.” Lakewood, a member of the Northwest Conference since 2016, was the only member of its 16-team league outside the North Region — Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties — which may have prevented the Cougars from starting competition with the rest of their league.
Archbishop Murphy and Cedarcrest, football-only members of the Northwest Conference, will face Wesco opponents on the gridiron this season, too.
Darrington is in a similar situation to Lakewood. It’s the only Puget Sound Region — Snohomish, King and Pierce counties — school in its conference. But, unlike Lakewood, the Loggers don’t have another local league with schools of somewhat similar size to fall back on.
The 1B school in northeast Snohomish County is one of the smallest public schools in Western Washington, and the mountain town of about 1,100 people has reported just 31 coronavirus cases, according to the Snohomish County Health Department.
“I would hope that between now and the point that these things start to happen policy-makers take a common-sense approach to this,” Darrington Superintendent Dr. Buck Marsh said, “and they look at how many cases are in a local area and provide some type of waiver or some type of way that a group of students in an area that hasn’t been impacted can still participate with their peers from other schools and other activities.
“… It would be pretty tough to see people that live just a few miles away really getting to do something that our kids don’t get to do.”
The Northwest 2B/1B Conference has plans to start with spring sports on Feb. 22. Darrington offers baseball and softball in the spring.
A Zoom meeting between the WIAA and the Washington State Secondary Athletic Administrators Association on Wednesday showed the Emerald Sound Conference has also received approval for its own prep sports schedule.
The league’s proposal hasn’t been posted on the WIAA website, but conference president Scott Sifferman said in last week’s WIAA/WSSAAA meeting that the league had applied to start traditional fall sports practices on Feb. 15. He added the league intends to pursue a three-season format, but had yet to come to a decision on which sports would make up Seasons 2 and 3.
Sifferman could not be reached Wednesday to confirm the Emerald Sound Conference’s plan.