Area MS, HS, College Sports Closer to Return, But Many Face Challenges
As area sports programs fight to return to the field, here's a look at what's happening around our area and region; youth-MS, HS and college.
High School and Middle School programs will return with practices starting February 2nd, for boys-girls soccer, cross country and dance per the WIAA. Our youngest daughter attends Highlands Middle School in Kennewick, and at least for them the kids in these sports will practice from 6:30 til 7:45AM PRIOR to the beginning of school. Some schools might have varied times.
Youth Baseball Plans Return. Kennewick National and Kennewick American youth Baseball as well as Richland National and others, do plan to play this spring. KN has officially said they will likely have a shortened season. Some leagues, including Pasco, have not yet updated information but most say they will get registration up and going.
Kennewick Grid Kids youth football has already prepared a Back to Basics Youth conditioning clinic, that sold out even after adding several dozen more slots. Word from the league is they are going to prepare everything; then when Benton County moves to Phase 2, all systems go. Football will be allowed in Phase 2.
Many area youth softball and baseball 'travel' teams or select teams are watching closely to see if tournaments already being scheduled for Tri-Cities and Walla Walla will happen. USSSA/ ASA and other sanctioned events are on the calendar. However, Phase 2 of Inslee's Healthy Washington plan doesn't appear to allow tournaments. We shall see. It could be like in 2020, when many of these teams traveled to Post Falls, Lewiston, Nampa, Boise, and other venues to play.
AAU basketball scrubbed it's local Tri-Cities leagues last fall, and this winter. Every area High School has affiliations with various youth age teams. But the only AAU in our neck of the woods was some 'select' high powered teams who traveled outside WA and OR for tournaments. As of this writing, we've not heard of any upcoming plans.
And finally, the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference will salvage part of their 2020 season in February. Unlike Division I (WSU, Alabama, UW, Michigan etc). Division III scrubbed all football at it's 250 schools...twice as many as are in Division I.
There are more D-III teams (8) in WA-OR than any other NCAA classification
Whitworth University, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Puget Sound will play each other twice (home and away) in Feb. No fans in stands, at least not for now. The other 5 teams in the conference, Linfield, Willamette, Lewis-Clark, George Fox and Pacific University, are in Oregon. Because of Governor Brown's "State of Emergency" being in effect through March 1, they won't be allowed to compete--unless that policy is lifted.
Of course, this is all subject to change. And especially for the local sports, much will depend in Benton, Franklin County, as well as Yakima, if the South Central Region moves to Phase 2 before March.