All is not lost in the world of spring prep sports. At least not yet.
On Wednesday an email from Onalaska athletic director, Dennis Bower, provided some insight into what the future might hold for high school athletes, coaches, and fans under a variety of scenarios. Those updates were provided following a teleconference with the District 4 WIAA executive board.
According to Bower, the WIAA board informed a group of athletic directors from the Central 2B League that while there are still tentative plans in place to hold spring state championships, April 24 will now be used as a deadline. If school has been approved to resume by that date then plans will go forward to host WIAA spring championships on their regularly scheduled dates. On the contrary, if no return date for school has been established by April 24 then championship tournaments will be cancelled.
Bower noted that the WIAA has stated their position that state and regional tournaments can’t be rescheduled due to venue and time constraints.
The meeting notes included confirmation that athletes will once again be held to a standard of 10 practices prior to competition. However, there will be no restraints on Sunday practices and two practices per day may be counted toward an athlete’s total.
In the unspeakable event that state tournaments are called off there’s still a chance that league and district tournaments could go on, depending on when, or if, school activities are resumed.
For now Bower is hopeful that some sort of abbreviated schedule could be cobbled together that would allow Pacific 2B League and C2BL teams and athletes to qualify for district competition. Bower said alternative track and softball schedules should be relatively easy to work out but called for a burst of creativity from coaches and athletic directors when it comes to working out a new C2BL baseball schedule.
“Also, keep in mind that even if there are no State Tournament we still can play league games and even set up district play,” Bower wrote. “Likewise, we can play games well beyond state dates and even perhaps into late May early June to give kids an opportunity to experience spring sports.”
Unfortunately, non-varsity competitors look like they will take a hit even under a best case scenario. Bower noted that due to limited dates, facilities and officials junior varsity and C-squad athletes are staring down the possibility of umpiring their own games or outright cancellations.
Bower added that the C2BL will continue discussions with the P2BL about what a District 4 tournament might look like. He encouraged coaches and administrators to begin their own brainstorming process posthaste.
By Wednesday afternoon Kalama baseball coach Brandon Walker had taken the bait and started a group chat with the rest of the coaches in the C2BL. The resulting flow of text messages was a pent up stream of consciousness and competitiveness.
According to initial feedback from around the league Walker says he believes there is a way to make it all work. Assuming practices are allowed to resume on April 27 teams would be able to achieve their mandatory practice time by hosting three two-a-day practices during the first week. Walker foresees one path forward where teams would be able to play a pre-district “tune up” schedule from May 4-16. The following week a district tournament could be held featuring all 20 twenty teams from the C2BL and P2BL. Several options currently being floated for formatting and seeding particulars in order to have the qualifying teams from District IV ready for regionals on time.
“We can all do this. The Central can hash this out. We’re pretty good at that typically, but when you start combining with nine other schools it can be a challenge,” Walker said. “But in my opinion we have to combine (for districts) because we’ll only have two weeks to get this done. The WIAA says it’s up to our entire district to decide who will represent our district at regionals.”
With so much time between now the new state deadline Walker admits there is still too much uncertainty to start writing out his starting lineups in pen. However, after a two-week dose of bad news the Chinooks’ coach was more than happy to let hope spring eternal, even if it was just in his text messages.
“Optimism is something that we all really seem to need right now,” Walker said.