Kara Prynne never imagined that her high school coaching career would start the way it has.
Prynne was hired as the Washougal High School volleyball team’s head coach in the spring of 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which postponed the 2020-21 high school sports season in Washington for several months.
During that time, Prynne tried her best to deliver a positive but realistic message to her athletes about their chances of playing competitive matches. With the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) delaying the start of the volleyball season several times already, she wanted them to be prepared for any situation.
“We were trying to maintain the hopefulness in the kids,” she said, “but we also didn’t want to disappoint them if (the WIAA cancelled) the season.”
So when Prynne received word that her team would be allowed to begin its season after the Southwest Region moved into the second phase of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Roadmap to Recovery” plan earlier this month, she was overjoyed — and also a bit cautious.
“When we finally got the go-ahead ahead to play, initially (I had) an unbelievable feeling,” she said. “But then it was like, ‘Is this really true, or is it going to be taken away agan?'”
4A Greater St. Helens League (GSHL) slowpitch softball squads will play their first games this week, with football, volleyball and girls soccer teams slated to begin next week. GSHL 2A football, volleyball, girls soccer and slowpitch softball squads will begin play this week.
“It’s exciting to be able to play again and get back on the court with my teammates,” said Washougal senior volleyball player Skylar Bea. “It was disheartening to get our hopes up and then find out the next week that the season had been pushed back again. I was hopeful that we would be able to get to play again.”
The GSHL schools also announced that their second (spring) and third (winter) seasons will occur simultaneously, running from April 12 to June 11. Season 1, which began on Feb. 1 with cross country, boys golf and boys tennis and will now include the other four traditional fall sports, will conclude on April 2.
“Things are going great,” Camas athletic director Rory Oster said. “Our kids are so happy to be back, and they are doing such a great job following protocols and doing what is asked of them. I can’t wait to get more of these sports going (this) week.”
Season 2 — which includes baseball, softball, girls golf, girls tennis, boys soccer and track and field — was previously scheduled to begin March 15. Season 3 — which includes basketball, bowling, gymnastics, wrestling, and girls swimming and diving — was scheduled to start April 26.
“One of the goals of our league this entire planning process was to put some priority and protect spring sports as much as possible,” Oster said. “We wanted to give them as close to a full season as possible. There are also no metrics even developed that tell us when we can play indoor high-risk sports, so we did not want to shorten the prioritized spring season.”
The change may force multi-sport athletes to choose a sport, but “will not affect our ability to field any teams within a program,” Oster said.
“In large schools like ours, the number of kids that play sports during both seasons are low,” Oster said. “Yes, there will be some athletes that will have to choose for this upcoming season, but they will at least have that choice to make. And they will get as close to a full season of that sport as possible. Dual sports is against WIAA policy, so unless they give a waiver to this rule, we will not explore that option. It would be virtually impossible for a student-athlete to participate in two team sports at the same time.”
WIAA changes mask rule for runners
The WIAA changed its policy on face coverings earlier this month to allow cross country runners to drop their masks during races.
Previously, the WIAA’s guidelines stated that all student-athletes must wear face coverings during all competitions.
“I think the people at the WIAA aren’t runners,” Camas cross country coach Laurie Porter said. ‘”It’s one thing if you’re playing golf or tennis, but if you’re running as fast as our kids run, their hearts race, (and a mask) makes it awfully difficult to get enough oxygen to sustain muscle contraction. I personally tested out a mask, and when it’s raining … you can’t get air in. Kids could pass out, especially if they’re running hard. I worry about that. I told my kids, ‘If you’re in respiratory distress during a race, use common sense and take the mask off.'”