Skagit County high school coaches and athletes got the news they’d feared in the wake of Gov. Jay Inslee canceling the remainder of the school year Monday: spring sports are canceled, too.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the governing body for prep sports in the state, made the announcement late Monday, stressing that the decision was made for safety reasons and includes all postseason tournaments and championship events.
The decision affects athletes, coaches and fans throughout six sports played in the spring season in Skagit County, from soccer and baseball to golf and tennis. Mount Vernon Christian was scheduled to offer baseball this spring for the first time in school history.
Anacortes softball coach Tom Swapp, slated to helm the Seahawks for a 41st year, agreed with the decision but said he was struck by the wide scope of the impact.
“It’s every sport, every school, every athlete. It’s too bad for my seniors, but it’s too bad for everyone’s seniors,” he said.
Swapp, who was named the Northwest Conference softball coach of the year last season, noted if the schedule hadn’t been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seahawks would now be in spring break after a battle last week with Sehome, often a challenging rival and anticipated matchup.
“Everyone has expectations. Everyone thinks they can win the state tournament. We thought that. But just the competition part is a lot of fun, and that’s not something we’re going to get done,” he said.
Randy Sweeney, Concrete’s baseball coach and athletic director, said this will be his first spring without baseball in decades.
“I can’t imagine being a senior and not being able to play the final season. I feel for them. This is the first spring in 50-plus years I haven’t been involved with baseball. It’s pretty strange,” he said.
Burlington-Edison track and field coach Kevin Gudgel said it was disappointing to see events such as the 114th year of the Skagit County Track and Field Championships wiped out.
It’s especially disappointing that so many athletes had opportunities yanked away, he said.
He gave the example of last year’s Tigers standout, Taino Ferdinand, who used a strong senior season — and a 6-foot-6 high jump — to earn a spot on the Washington State University track and field team.
“I had some kids (this year) who were first-time track kids who were good athletes. Who knows what could have happened?” he said. “That’s another disappointing thing. We’ll never know what would have happened.”
According to the WIAA, about 175,000 student-athletes participated in prep sports throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Nationally, the state was No. 15 in total participation.