The Olympic League is about to get bigger, a lot more.
That’s the big news to report as high schools around Washington consider a possible return to the sport in early February.
Of course, it remains a big unknown whether COVID-19 will allow local student-athletes to play games starting next month. If they do, the Olympic League will be their home.
West Sound athletic directors teamed up on Thursday afternoon to begin defining details for the upcoming fall season, which kicks off on February 1. Here are the details from this virtual meeting.
– With the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association allowing school districts across the state to form temporary and localized leagues for fall sports starting February 1, the Olympic League – home to 2A Bremerton, Kingston, North Kitsap schools , North Mason, Olympic, Port Angeles and Sequim – is poised to expand.
The new schools will include South Kitsap from South Puget Sound League 4A, Central Kitsap from South Sound Conference 3A, Shelton from Evergreen League 2A, Klahowya and Port Townsend from Nisqually League 1A and Chimacum from Northwest League 2B. Bainbridge could break with Metro League 3A, but is still considering his options. Port Townsend and Chimacum would combine to function as a single program in most sports.
The new league setup is expected to be finalized the week of January 18 and would require approval from the administrators of the various schools.
– The Enlarged Olympic League would consist of two divisions. The divisional setup for football would differ slightly from the divisional setup for non-football sports that would be offered next month: women’s football, volleyball, girls’ swim / dive and cross country.
For football, a division would include Bainbridge (if joined), Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap, Olympic, Sequim and South Kitsap. The other division would include Kingston, Klahowya, North Mason, Port Angeles, Port Townsend / Chimacum and Shelton.
For sports other than football, a division would include Kingston, Klahowya, Olympic, Port Angeles, Port Townsend / Chimacum and Sequim. The other division would include Bainbridge, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap, North Mason, Shelton and South Kitsap.
– Sporting directors told me this week that geography and competitive fairness are the two priorities when evaluating the organization of the divisions. It remains to be seen which school districts approve transportation to sporting events. Schools may require athletes / families to provide their own transportation to matches / practices. Another unknown: whether spectators will be allowed to attend the events. Inside? Almost no chance. Outside? Maybe in very small groups, but that’s not easy.
– Kitsap, Mason, Jefferson and Clallam counties reside in a Phase 1 region based on Governor Jay Inslee’s âHealthy Washingtonâ reopening plan. All four counties must meet the four phase 2 requirements for the high school to host games / events for most sports: 10% downward trend in case rates; 10% decrease in hospital admission rates; 90% or less occupancy in hospital intensive care units; Test positivity rate of 10% or less.
Cross country, which is considered a low risk sport, is different. The WIAA recently negotiated with the governor’s office to allow cross-country events to be held in Phase 1. So at the very least, we’ll have cross-country teams to cover next month. It’s a sport I’ve grown to admire over the past few years and Kitsap has a bunch of quality runners. We’re very unlikely to have a state event this year, which is a shame as the boys from Klahowya were a legitimate threat to be the first Kitsap County team to win a title. The Eagles placed second in 2019.
– Girls swim / dive is a question mark as the Olympic Aquatic Center remains closed due to ongoing construction work at the Olympic High School. CAO serves the three high schools in the Central Kitsap School District. South Kitsap’s swimming pool also remains closed, although South Kitsap’s athletic director Eric Canton has said it is set to reopen in a few weeks.
– Almost all schools in West Sound currently allow off-season training outdoors as student-athletes prepare for the return to the sport. Bremerton remains the only school not to offer these trainings.
Jeff Graham covers high school sports for the Kitsap Sun. Contact him at [email protected]