After nearly a year of being sidelined due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Edmonds School District high school student athletes will be returning to the practice fields as early as next week.
In partnership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and Wesco League, the district has been working to find ways to offer all district high school students opportunities for fitness and conditioning. This will be the first time students have hit the field since March 12, said Edmonds School District Athletic Director Julie Stroncek.
“We are super excited that we are going to see some high school kids on our fields next week,” she said.
In preparation for upcoming seasons, Stroncek — speaking at the Edmonds School Board’s Jan. 12 business meeting — announced that student athletes from the district’s four comprehensive high schools will begin outdoor conditioning training sessions starting the week of Jan. 18.
During the 45-minute sessions, students will be broken into pods of five, spaced 6 feet apart and wearing masks. Pods will be overseen by the schools’ coaches, almost all of whom Stroncek said expressed interest in participating in the sessions. Initially, staff planned to have one coach overseeing three pods at a time. However, Stroncek said there was such high interest from coaches many pods might have their own.
Athletic staff will also be coordinating parking to ensure students coming and going between sessions will not have to cross paths, Stroncek added.
According to Stroncek, the prospect of returning to athletics has sparked much interest. Last week at Lynnwood High School — before the district was even advertising the sessions — parents were already meeting to discuss the matter. By Friday, Stroncek said that 150 students had signed up.
Stroncek said the sessions — and the prospect of returning to playing sports — will also be a way to incentivize students to keep their grades up. Interscholastic athletics aren’t anticipated by district staff to return until mid-February, giving students time to ensure their grades are in order to play.
Students can also expect more leniency when it comes to sports and grades when athletics resume. Stroncek said grades from the first semester of the 2020-21 school year won’t impact a student’s ability to play sports. Additionally, she said the WIAA has reduced the academic probation time for students with failing grades, so as soon as they are passing the class again, they can play.
Though staff do not plan to directly offer specific conditioning pods for each sport, Stroncek said if a group of athletes from the same sport sign up — along with the team’s coach — they may be able to arrange for more sports-specific footwork exercises.
While staff are hoping the sessions may shake some students out of a sweeping sense of complacency that some students have reported feeling since transitioning to online learning, coaches and trainers have been advised to ease students back into physical activities.
“Our trainers are working closely with our coaches to remind them that we need to meet kids with where they are and not where we think they might be, because a lot of these kids might not have done anything since last March,” Stroncek said.
During the Jan. 12 board meeting, Director Gary Noble asked if students were prepared to condition in the rainy weather predicted for next week. In response, Stroncek said students were more than willing to brave the weather to return to the practice field.
“I think this is how much kids just want to get out and our coaches are willing to do it,” she said.
To be assigned a conditioning pod, students must complete an interest form (Athlete Conditioning Interest Form).
Students who sign up by 3 p.m. this Wednesday, Jan. 13 will be assigned a conditioning pod for the week of Jan. 18. Those who sign-up after 3 p.m. on Jan. 13, but before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20 will be able to start the week of Jan. 25
Due to the social distancing requirements for our outdoor conditioning sessions, all fields and courts at our four comprehensive high schools will be reserved for high school athletes and coaches only, Monday through Friday between the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19.
After signing up, students will begin receiving emails to complete the daily health attestation form. In addition to signing up, students are required to submit three electronic eligibility forms through Rank One Sport as well as an initial Covid-19 Waiver form, which is accessible through the download/print area of Rank One and the District Athletics webpage.
For more information, the district has created a high school athletics slideshow to answer additional questions.
–By Cody Sexton