By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson
Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March 12 that all public and private schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties must close through April 24 due to the coronavirus outbreak. This includes all athletic practices and competitions.
For the past two weeks, Eastside schools have been taking precautions to the coronavirus outbreak and began cancelling or postponing events, according to the KingCo website and Lake Washington, Bellevue, Issaquah, Mercer Island and Snoqualmie school districts. This includes baseball, fastpitch softball, boys soccer, boys and girls track and field, girls tennis, girls golf and badminton.
According to the Northshore School District website, “Despite our efforts to keep athletics open, it is no longer possible to do so with the mandated closure of our schools. At the end of practice Friday (March 13) evening, Northshore is suspending all athletic activities, including practice. We are still hopeful that once schools are allowed to reopen that an abbreviated spring sports season may still be possible.”
The Snoqualmie Valley School District site notes, “Consistent with our neighboring school districts, out-of-district transportation, sports practices, games, events, and field trips are cancelled at this time.”
Before Bothell High fastpitch practice on March 12, junior pitcher/center fielder Katie Fodge noted: “If by chance, the coaches aren’t able to come out and work with us, we’re definitely gonna set up times for just the team to come out and work together, just to be able to keep that going. If the season’s shorter, we’re just gonna keep working until it’s time for games and we’ll be ready.”
She has a membership at D-Bat Bothell and utilizes the batting cages at that facility, and her dad catches her all the time as well.
“I’m pretty sure all the other girls will work outside of it, too, ‘cause we’re definitely all invested in this,” Fodge said.
Over at Redmond High practice on March 11, head baseball coach Dan Pudwill said: “I think like a lot of people, we’re just following guidance from people higher on up and there’s some suggestions and whatnot like good hand hygiene, so we talk about washing hands.” He added that they’re not shaking hands or high-fiving.
Added Mount Si High head baseball coach Brent Lutz at practice on March 10: “It’s another teaching moment for us. It’s unfortunate, it’s a scary, scary thing and I think everybody is trying to do the best they can with the information we have and that’s what we can do to do our part. We actually don’t shake hands anymore, we touch elbows, so we’re trying to do that thing within our own teams of trying to stay healthy.”
The KingCo conference released a statement on March 11 stating that they support the decisions of the school districts to postpone competitions.
The statement said that “all league play in spring sports will be postponed until such time as all schools in a league-assigned schedule are authorized by their school districts to participate in interscholastic competitions.”
With the future of the spring sports season in question, Mercer Island head boys soccer coach Forrest Marowitz said he is worried for the seniors during an interview on March 12.
“The first thing that goes through my mind and the coaching staff’s mind is just how bad you feel for the seniors,” Marowitz said. “Kids spend the whole year looking forward to these next 2-3 months and for seniors to possibly not get their senior season is just heartbreaking.”
Over at Redmond, Pudwill said on March 11: “We get to practice today, so we’re gonna treat it like any other practice that we would in preparation for a season that’s upcoming until we find out if games are indeed gonna be cancelled further on down the road.”
Prior to the Mount Si practice on March 10, Lutz said: “We gonna get prepared for whenever that first game is. Since we’re allowed to practice, we’re doing a lot of inter-squads, we’re just breaking the teams in two, so we’re doing everything we can do to get ready for that first game.”
Lake Washington High fastpitch head coach Daryl “Grizz” Stevens noted: “At this point, we are just waiting to see where this leads. If we can get back to some type of normal in April, we would still have time to have a condensed season and get these kids back out there. They deserve a season. But right now, we need to focus on getting ahead of this and keeping people healthy.”