There will be sports at Selah High School this month — practices, at least.
Athletic Director Jake Davis said new COVID-19 safety guidelines issued Jan. 5 by state public health officials have made it easier for school officials to understand how to proceed. Additional guidance from the Washington Athletic Activities Association (WIAA) on Jan. 12 helped clarify the requirements for phases 1 and 2, and that has opened the door to allow student-athletes from each of the three sports seasons to reconvene as soon as Jan. 19.
“The nice thing is that over the next couple of weeks, we will get to have a productive, optional conditioning program going on for all sports,” Davis said Jan. 13. “And once we land on a start date for fall sports events, we will be doing only fall sports at that time.”
Interscholastic events for football, volleyball, girls soccer and cross country could resume as soon as Feb. 1, but as late as Feb. 22, depending on where the south-central region of the state stands with COVID infection and hospitalization rates.
Davis added that the high school’s goal was to offer something for every sport by Jan. 19, although “we don’t know yet what that’s going to look like.” He said there’s a chance the basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams could start meeting indoors as soon as that week, but the WIAA criteria are constantly being adjusted.
“We’re going to take full advantage if we are allowed to do that, but at the same time, we’re going to continue to follow all of the guidelines and safety protocols,” said Davis, who also serves on numerous WIAA committees. “Almost all of our coaches have had additional COVID training, and we managed to get through the fall without a single case out of 300-plus athletes and coaches.”
Davis credited his coaches and other school personnel with doing everything they can to give Selah student-athletes an opportunity to compete during the truncated 2020-21 season.
“We accomplished a lot during the fall, and none of that would have happened without the work of our dedicated coaches, medical staff and custodial staff,” he said. “We truly appreciate everything they are doing.”
Some fall sports athletes — many of whom took part in a “Summer 2.0” training program in November — have been back to practice since classes resumed earlier this month. Davis said new girls soccer coach Josh Koreski has seen about 30 players so far, while cross country coach Kelly Mattson also has his teams off and running.
The football and volleyball programs are preparing to resume physically distanced practices in mid-January, along with wrestling, basketball, baseball, softball, boys soccer and track and field. The tennis and golf teams will also resume in some capacity when conditions allow.
Once the official start date for fall sports competition is announced, Davis said the athletic department will shift its attention exclusively to those activities. The start of the winter and spring seasons — already pushed back more than once — will depend on when fall sports can finally get underway.
As it stands now, each program is expected to have between six and seven weeks of competition, instead of the typical 10- or 11-week seasons. But, at this point, Davis is just glad to see his athletes and coaches return to action.
“We still hope to offer something for every sport this school year,” he said.