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WIAA adds fourth season to modified 2020-21 schedule

COVID-19 precautions create delays

RENTON—It may sound weird to say, but “Friday Night Lights” won’t be taking place until March this year. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) announced a new, tentative schedule which includes four sports seasons for the 2020-21 season due to Corona virus restrictions.

The four seasons are classified numerically: Season 1, 2, 3 and 4. Most notably, football, volleyball and girls soccer were all moved to Season 3, which begins at the end of winter.

Schools have to reside in a county that’s in at least Phase 3 of the state’s Covid-19 re-opening plan to be able to participate in any sports and must be in Phase 4 to have any sports above the classification of low risk. Low risk fall sports are limited to cross country, golf, tennis and potentially individual girls swim/dive events.

Season 1/fall practices are set to begin Sept. 7 and run through Nov. 8. If the WIAA deems it is unsafe to have any sports in the fall, Season 1 activities will be moved to Season 3.

Season 2 starts Jan.4 and includes the traditional winter sports of basketball, bowling, boys swim and dive, gymnastics, competitive cheer and wrestling. These sports will run through March 7.

In Season 3, football pre-practices start Feb. 22, while volleyball, girls soccer, 1B/2B boys soccer and alternative girls swim and dive pre-practices start March 1. Season 3 runs through May 9 for football and May 2 for the other sports.

Season 4 starts April 26 and runs through June 27. It features traditional spring sports of tennis, fastpitch softball, track & field, baseball, golf, 1A-4A boys soccer and competitive dance/drill.

No sports in Nov.

Due to the possibility of a spike in Covid-19 cases as flu season arrives, WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman said there won’t be any sports from Nov. 9 through Jan. 3. He also noted the WIAA wanted flexibility during these months in case fall sports had to be pushed back or moved to the spring.

Coaches will have to conduct health screenings and check temperatures of students every day during sports season. If an athlete tests positive for COVID-19, they and anyone within close contact must quarantine for 14 days. Hoffman said this could “conceivably remove” teams from competition for a two-week period in order to follow guidelines from the DOH.

Davenport head football coach Justin Young said he hasn’t had the chance to reach out to inform his players of the season’s delay, but he anticipates there will be relief that the season is scheduled to happen at all, as opposed to disappointment that it won’t be available.

“I’m just happy that they’re trying to get in a season, especially for the seniors,” Young said.

Reardan head football coach Eric Nikkola said he sent a message to the team “to let them know, ‘hey, (the season) is not cancelled.’”

“The kids said, ‘we don’t care if we play three games,’” Nikkola said. “This keeps them hopefully (and) connected to the school.”

Nikkola said while he isn’t excited that football isn’t happening in the fall, he’s more hopeful that a season will occur at all. He said the WIAA “absolutely” made the right call in delaying football to early spring.

Odessa head football coach Jeff Nelson said he’s “thrilled” that there will be some sports, at least for now.

“I was really worried that sports were going to be completely cancelled,” Nelson said.

“That’s an awful way to go.”

The WIAA’s executive board will meet again July 28 to set criteria schools must meet to qualify for sports participation in 2020-21.

Author Bio

Drew Lawson, Reporter and sports writer

Author photo

Drew Lawson is a reporter and sports writer for Free Press Publishing, including the Cheney Free Press and Davenport Times. He is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.


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