Late Tuesday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released a set of revisions to the four-season sports calendar it announced on July 21.
The adjustments provide some clarity and flexibility for coaches and athletic directors trying to make plans to provide as much athletic experience as possible for the state’s student-athletes within the guidelines set up by the WIAA in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the release, after the July 21 meeting, the board “continued to receive feedback from member schools as well as the planning committee assembled” to provide guidance on the best path for returning to high school sports in Washington.
As with the previous calendar set forth by the WIAA, the revisions and dates provided are tentative, subject to the four-phase Safe Start Washington plan. Each sport was assigned a risk factor (low, moderate, high) and can only begin if the county has progressed into the appropriate corresponding phase of the plan.
The risk factor and guidelines for each sport can be found on WIAA’s website under the Sports/Activities/COVID-19 tab.
Highlights of the adjustments:
- Football practice moved up one week to begin Feb. 17;
- Out-of-season fall sport coaching period from Sept. 28-Nov. 30;
- Season 2 start/end dates moved up one week to Dec. 28/Feb. 27;
- Cross country and slowpitch softball culminating events moved to Season 3;
- Schools allowed to schedule 70% of typical contests for each sport;
- Girls swimming and diving moved to WIAA Season 3;
- Competitive cheer moved to Season 3;
- No competition Nov. 2-Dec. 27.
Football: Since football has an extra week of practice before competition, moving the start of football practice up a week allows that regular season to align with the rest of the Season 3 sports and ensures football can complete a seven-week season. It also allows a second week of playoffs and sets up a “Week 10” scenario for nonplayoff teams to play an additional game.
The out-of-season coaching window during the fall for all sports that do not take place in Season 1 mimics the traditional summer coaching window sanctioned by the WIAA. Football will be allowed 20 days of contact practices during the allowable coaching period in the fall, and no coaching will be allowed from Aug. 17-Sept. 27.
Winter sports: The shift to Season 2 (basketball, wrestling, gymnastics) allows the season to end a week earlier than previously scheduled to avoid overlap of students participating in both Seasons 2 and 3 sports.
Fall sports: In its July 21 schedule, “low-risk” fall sports cross country and slowpitch softball were scheduled for Season 1, but the update moves the culminating events to Season 3, along with the other traditional fall sports.
Statewide, Season 1 remains available for cross country, slowpitch, tennis and golf to conduct alternative seasons as an option for schools that want to take part in a regular season prior to a culminating event in the spring.
District 8, which includes the Greater Spokane League and Mid-Columbia Conference, decided in a Wednesday meeting that it would not participate in the alternative season and all traditional fall sports would be conducted in Season 3. The decision is pending approval from GSL principals and the District 8 executive board, which is expected, according to GSL Director Ken VanSickle.
VanSickle cited the out-of-season coaching window as one of the reasons to keep fall sports together in Season 3.
“Since the window allows coaches the opportunity to work with players, we didn’t think it made much sense with the culminating events in the spring,” VanSickle said.
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