In this time of uncertainty, we at the WIAA wanted to do our best to keep you informed of our intentions and expectations regarding the spring sports season. What’s important to keep in mind is that, at the end of the day, the mission of the WIAA has always been to provide opportunities for students around the state to engage in a safe and enjoyable environment. That mission has never been more important than it is right now.
It’s a well-known and often-used phrase that all coaches try to instill in their athletes – “Control what you can control.” We are taking that wisdom into account and operating with the information that is available to us at this moment to plan for when we as educators can return to our athletic endeavors. WIAA staff have conferred with WIAA District Directors, gathered feedback from the WIAA Student Leadership Committee, and received countless emails from students and parents urging the WIAA to preserve the state championship experience if the opportunity allows. With schools currently scheduled to reopen after April 24, the WIAA will hold State Championship events as scheduled. Any further delays could put State Championships in jeopardy as no championships will be held after May 30 to avoid conflicts with graduation.
The blanket waiver to WIAA practice restrictions will allow for student-athletes to achieve 10 practices within five days. As an example, administrators could hold a schoolwide conditioning practice before classes and sport-specific practices in the afternoon as a way to reach 10 practices efficiently and safely. No matter the outcome of the following weeks, there will be no reduction to the minimum number of practices required to compete. Undoubtedly some creativity and imagination will be needed at the local level to make the most of a shortened season and to choose qualifying procedures that best apply to your league and district. Local control has been a hallmark of our Association and those regular season/qualifying decisions will need to be made by local leaders.
As part of that creative solution, we do recommend that schools and leagues organize a continuation of the regular season for schools that do not advance to State Championships. These games may be played through the end of State Championships on May 30. While nothing will be able to replace the time taken away from these students, especially seniors, providing more avenues to create lifelong memories with their teammates should be the ultimate goal.
In the meantime, the instruction from Governor Inslee and the OSPI has been to discontinue all organized contests and practices. The WIAA supports that mandate and no member schools should be competing or practicing at this time in an effort to keep everyone in our communities safe. We thank you all for not only keeping students safe but ensuring an equitable playing field for when we can return to action.