High school sports pushed back again

January 2021 now the earliest start date for fall athletic teams

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The Camas High School football team celebrates its second 4A state championship title in December 2019. Fall sports will not begin until at least January 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. (Post-Record file photo)

The ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis has, once again, thrown a wrench into the 2020-21 high school sports seasons.

In July, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which dictates high school sports schedules in the state, postponed several fall sports, including football, girls soccer and volleyball until early spring 2021, and moved other fall sports — cross country, slowpitch softball, boys golf and boys tennis — to an alternative schedule that would have allowed some practice and competition during the fall.

Now, all local fall high school sports have been postponed until at least January 2021.

Camas High School athletic director Rory Oster and Washougal High School athletic director

Gary McGarvie announced last week that all fall sports in the 2A, 3A and 4A Greater St. Helens leagues have been postponed until March and April of 2021 due to COVID-19.

“While league officials strongly believe in the growth that interscholastic education-based athletics provides and want to return student-athletes to the field as soon as possible, we also believe this decision is best for the health and safety of the student athletes, coaches and communities, which is always the top priority,” Oster stated in a press release.

McGarvie added that, although school officials recognize the decision will negatively impact participants, “the safety of all our student-athletes, coaches, fans and family members is our No. 1 priority.”

“Coaches and league leadership weighed the many benefits of athletic participation against risks involved and feel strongly that this is the best decision that could be made for our students,” McGarvie stated in the press release. “All of us look forward to having all our student-athletes on campus and competing in the future.”

WIAA leaders hope traditional winter sports can begin in late December 2020 or early January 2021, and that traditional spring sports take place in April and May 2021.

WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman said in July that WIAA executive board members had been working with a committee of coaches, athletic directors, students, public officials and local health experts to come up with the best guidelines for the 2020-21 high school sports seasons.

“The No. 1 priority for everyone is the safety of the kids and the coaches, and it doesn’t look like (playing in the fall) is a safe scenario for us to be involved in,” Hajek said in July. “The worst thing that could happen would be for kids to get sick and spread (the virus) to their family members and compound the situation.”