Spring ahead, fall back. Or something like that.
Late Wednesday night the WIAA’s Executive Board voted to revise the sequence of seasons for its modified 2021 athletic calendar, moving fall sports to next up with a possible start to practices as early as Feb. 1 — provided the state’s new guidelines announced this week are met.
Details for the winter and spring seasons will be reviewed at the Executive Board’s next meeting on Jan. 19.
In an expected move, the WIAA opted to move fall sports, with more outdoor activities, ahead of indoor winter sports to increase the chances of meeting the COVID-19 markers for returning to play. The season, set at seven weeks spanning Feb. 1 to March 20, includes cross country, football, slowpitch softball, girls soccer and volleyball. Golf and tennis are listed as alternates based on league preference.
According to the WIAA release, “the change comes after Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Tuesday the Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan which outlined a new set of guidelines and metrics for the resumption of education-based athletics and activities in Washington. Sports will maintain their previously assigned risk levels; however, the level of participation for each activity will vary in Phase 1 or Phase 2.
“The change in guidelines allow all traditional fall sports to be played in Phase 2 while we still do not have a clear pathway to the high-risk indoor activities of basketball, competitive cheer and dance, and wrestling,” said WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman. “With that in mind, moving fall sports to Season 1 will hopefully provide the most opportunities to participate.”
Since weather and playing conditions could vary widely in the state during these early months, the Executive Board has granted each league or district the ability to reschedule seasons to best fit their local communities.
The WIAA plans to work with the state’s Department of Health to gain more clarity with the new guidelines.
“We are hoping to receive more details that were not included in the Governor’s announcement on Tuesday, particularly surrounding indoor sports and activities,” Hoffman said. “As we continue to gather more information and evaluate the new metrics, the Board will be able to make better decisions about the remainder of the year.”
The Executive Board also voted to extend the open coaching period at each school up until the day before the first season begins at that school.