WIAA decides no fall football, volleyball or girls soccer

   WHATCOM — Statewide, the usual fall sports of high school football, volleyball and girls soccer will instead be played next spring, due to ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association decided Tuesday, July 21.

  The lower-risk sports of cross country and boys tennis will start practices as scheduled on Sept. 7, the WIAA said. Girls swim and dive is to be determined with the Department of Health. 

  “We know the decisions we make impact a lot of kids, coaches and districts, so what we really focused on was making decisions on what we know,” WIAA board president Greg Whitmore said after a WIAA Executive Board meeting. “We all felt, and I can’t say we know anything for sure, but I don’t think there was anyone in the board room [who felt] we could get the high-risk sport of football played this fall. Volleyball is the same thing.” 

  The new plan from WIAA calls for four sanctioned sports seasons for the 2020-21 school year instead of the usual three.

  Season one will include cross country, boys tennis, girls swim and dive, slowpitch softball and boys golf if a school previously had that boys golf as a fall sport. 

  Season two will be the traditional winter sports of basketball, bowling, boys swim and dive, gymnastics and wrestling. It is scheduled to start in late December or early January. 

  Season three will be the high-risk sports moved from the fall of volleyball, girls soccer and football, set to start in early March. 

  The school year will conclude with a season four of the traditional spring sports. This season will begin in late April or early May and conclude by the end of June.

  However, even the start of season one in September will depend on where counties are in Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan for the state. WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman said counties must be in at least Phase 3 to participate. Whatcom County is now in Phase 2 and is short on several of the conditions for advancing.

  Hoffman also said the goal is to have parents and spectators able to attend games, which is why WIAA focused on outdoor sports that allow for social distancing this fall.

  “That’s where the Department of Health is going to give us those guidelines,” he said. “They’ve been pretty clear with the physical distancing and masks. If we can get our arms around this surge, I would fully anticipate they would allow that.”

  Just last month, the WIAA was trying to proceed in spite of COVID-19 uncertainty with a fall prep sports season as close to normal as possible, regardless of whether all schools could participate.

  On July 7 fall sports were pushed back two weeks to try to relieve pressure, anticipating competition to start as early as Sept. 18. But it was all dependent on where individual counties would be in the state’s phased reopening plan. 

  Now any advance of phases in Washington has been halted by a general resurgence of coronavirus cases across the state and parts of the nation in June and July.