WIAA delays fall sports practices

Football practice to start Sept. 5, other sports Sept. 7, first contests tentatively set for Sept. 18

Twin Harbors high school sports fans will have to wait a little longer to cheer on their favorite teams.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced on Wednesday a delay to the 2020 fall sports season, with football practices now scheduled to begin on Sept. 5 and all other fall sports on Sept. 7.

Typically, practices for fall prep sports begin around Aug. 15.

The WIAA Executive Board also stated in Wednesday’s press release that fall sports events that the new starting dates “allow for contests to begin as early as Sept. 18.”

On July 21, the board will meet to “review other options” for fall prep sports and will make a further announcement on July 22.

“That might be a devastating announcement,” said new Aberdeen High School athletic director John Crabb, who stated he believes the prep football season “is on the line” after the WIAA’s recently imposed schedule changes.

According to Crabb, ADs across the state are currently taking a wait-and-see approach as the WIAA has staggered announcements throughout the month and has to consider the different factors of COVID-19 per county and sport.

“The WIAA has talked about three different risk factors for each sport,” Crabb said, adding the WIAA has provided examples as to how to approach per sport. “Cross country can compete in Phase 3 more than likely. And golf is a pretty low risk sport. … Football is high risk while a sport such as soccer is more of a moderate risk.”

Crabb added that the WIAA is also taking into account the current phase each county is in when considering what policies and changes to implement.

Grays Harbor County is currently in Phase 3.

But amid pushes across the nation to get students back into school for the fall, including from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Anthony Fauchi of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Crabb offered that school staffs are willing to do what they need to do to ensure there is a fall sports season.

“We have to follow those rules so hopefully we can play some fall sports,” he said. “The bottom line is the kids need sports and the coaches need the kids. The coaches are just dying, wanting to be a coach and coach the kids. It’s a small price to pay to do what we love to do.”

But Wednesday’s announcement by the WIAA delays the opening of the fall sports season by at least two weeks. Pending the outcome of their July 21 meeting, the fall sports season, at least for some high-risk sports, is very much in jeopardy.

“That changes everything,” Crabb said of Wednesday’s press release. “There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s a decision made for me. I have to talk to other ADs and re-look at my schedules. We’ll see what happens.”