When Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week Washington would move into Phase 3 of its COVID-19 recovery program, one could almost hear an audible sigh of relief from every corner of the state.
It was the sound of high school basketball and wrestling coaches all exhaling at once. Those indoor sports required the area to be in Phase 3. The announcement meant they could play.
Under the modified schedule for high school sports, the current “fall” season, with football, volleyball and cross country, will be followed by a “spring” season of baseball, softball, track and field and tennis. Basketball and wrestling come last.
The wait for Jazmine Redmon has been especially challenging.
The former standout guard at Mead and Gonzaga University, who played professional basketball internationally, was hired in September as the head girls basketball coach at University High.
“I have actually been doing my student teaching at U-Hi, so I’ve been able to get to know some of the girls,” Redmon said. “They kept asking me, ‘When can we play?’ I’ve had to tell them that I don’t know.”
Redmon was an assistant coach at Mead last season. The Mead Panthers and U-Hi Titans split their two Greater Spokane League games.
At East Valley, longtime coach Craig Hanson was relieved to know his wrestlers would get a chance to compete, even if there would be no big tournaments, including state.
“We’re going to have a modified GSL season,” he said. “We’re a 4A-3A-2A league now, so we’ll have our dual matches with the other 2A teams, and we have Othello in with us this year.
“We will have to wear masks, of course. And we’re still trying to figure out what kind of mask will work best.”
There are limitations on how much contact wrestlers will be allowed to have with one another.
“They’re telling us 15 seconds of continual contact at any one time and 15 minutes of contact per day,” Hanson said. “That’s going to limit how many matches you can have in any one day.”
That kind of limitation rules out a tournament, he said. But coaches could bring in two or three other schools and get in multiple matches on one night.
There is some room there for coaches to get creative. Workouts will vary at each school.
“It depends on how many kids you have and how big your wrestling room is,” he said. “We’re working that out.”
Hanson said the start of the fall season has made for a big change at East Valley.
“You can see the difference in athletes walking the halls,” he said. “We’ve been in-person the whole time, and I have to tell you, it was strange to see this place after classes let out. It was empty. No one here.”
Redmon said she’s put the extended time away from the court to good use. She has studied WNBA and college games. And she has reveled in the success the Gonzaga women have enjoyed.
Redmon finished her GU career under coach Kelly Graves, now at Oregon.
“Lisa Fortier was my assistant coach,” she said. “I always knew she was going to do well as a head coach, and I was so thrilled to see them get a No. 5 seed (to the NCAA Tournament).”
She said Fortier has been a supportive mentor. And Graves reached out to his former point guard and will be readily available for help, advice and support.
“I’ve been talking with our JV and freshman coaches, and we’re going to make sure everyone plays the same kind of game we are going to put in with the varsity,” Redmon said. “We want to give all of these girls the best chance we can for them to thrive.”
The finer points of an offense and defense will come later.
“I want to see these girls play and then decide just exactly what we want to do and how we want to do it,” she said.
Steve Christilaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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