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With schools closed because of coronavirus pandemic, WIAA cancels spring state championships

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By Nathan Joyce

Updated April 6, 2020

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association waited as long it could to avoid canceling the spring state championships.

Monday’s announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee that schools will remain closed the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic became the final domino to fall on that matter.

That order meant the WIAA had no choice but to cancel spring sports championships, which typically come at the end of May. The WIAA confirmed Monday night it received the clarification it sought from the governor’s office and there was no way to salvage any spring sports.

The WIAA originally set April 24 as the guideline for schools to return to still be able to hold spring state championships. Last week, it said if schools were back in session by May 4, it could hold spring sports championships as it usually does.

The WIAA even had contingency plans for a “local or regional” competition if schools returned after May 4.

Monday, the WIAA held on as long as it could, hoping it was possible that if the statewide stay-at-home order was lifted May 4, there might be some spring sports yet to play. When the WIAA hadn’t gotten the clarification by 5 p.m., it issued a statement that it wasn’t ready to cancel the season yet. The call from the governor’s office did not save spring sports.

“The WIAA has received clarification that the order issued by Governor Inslee on Monday includes the cancellation of all in-person extracurricular athletics and activities through the end of the school year,” the WIAA said in a statement. “This will include all regular season contests and practices as well as all postseason tournaments and championship events.

“The decision was undoubtedly a difficult one for Governor Inslee. However, it was done so to keep the students and families of Washington safe. The WIAA Executive Board and the WIAA Staff feel for those students around the state that have had their seasons or careers cut short. This terrible disease has not only prevented students from creating lifelong memories through competition, it has limited the valuable lessons gained through participation in education-based athletics and activities.”

Mick Hoffman, the executive director of the WIAA, said he had heard from more than 100 people — he eventually lost count — this spring hoping to be able to compete.

“It’s unfortunate for everybody, but it is especially unfortunate for those seniors,” Hoffman said.

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