Back-To-School 101: The slow, safe return to high school sports

SPOKANE, Wash. — Sports are phasing back in at schools across Washington and here in Spokane.

Last month, the WIAA released a plan for a return to play this semester and that plan is moving forward this month.

As of Feb. 1, traditional fall sports — football, cross country, golf, slow pitch softball, girls and boys soccer, girls swim and dive, tennis and volleyball — could all start pre-competition practices again, but each has the freedom to start on their own schedule.

These sports would take place under Season One of the WIAA schedule, which spans about seven weeks.

This came as Governor Inslee announced the Healthy Washington reopening plan, which outlines a safe return of education-based athletics.

RELATED: WIAA details plans for return of high school sports

Traditional spring sports will be held in Season Two starting on Mar. 15 and traditional winter sports will be in Season Three which will begin on Apr. 26.

The Lewis and Clark High School girls cross country team has already been practicing to get ready for the start of the season on Feb. 22.

But things do look different.

They’re practicing in smaller groups and they have to wear masks when they run.

“We’ve seen a lot of these kids out doing stuff, physical activity, and so now we get to kind of organize and get together as a team and there’s kind of a little buzz there, which is pretty fun,” said head coach Kevin Swaim. “So we’re excited and looking forward to getting out here in the chill and competing a little bit.”

As the girls get ready to compete for the first time in over a year, the team is cautiously optimistic, but excited to be back doing what they love together.

“I’m so excited,” said team captain and senior Emma Stachofsky. “It’s so great to be a part of the team again, to see everyone and do workouts with people again. It’s great.”

The team’s first competition is scheduled for the first week of March.

Coach Swaim says they will continue to follow guidance from the state, the WIAA and Spokane Public Schools to keep everyone involved as safe as possible.