High School Sports Updates

Ever since the spring sports season was canceled in April 2020, there have been countless conversations about what sports would look like in the coming year. News on January 5th, 2021 came out from the Washington State Department of Health, and the WIAA created a summary of the guidelines from the Department of Health for what sports would look like. The WIAA also made it clear that “It is not mandated that schools return to in-person learning before taking part in extracurricular activities given the phase requirements are met.” This allows for sports to happen while our district works towards bringing students back into the classrooms

I got the chance to speak with Bothell Football Coach, Mr. Tom Bainter, and hear his thoughts about the start of the “winter” sports season. When asked about his preparation for the season and how the constant changes from the state have made it difficult, he explained that all his information was coming from our athletic director, Yonni Mills, and he would have parent meetings to relay that information. Bainter said that many times “just before the meeting I would have to either adjust, or even remove information from what I would tell the parents as plans would change sometimes even 5 minutes before the parent meetings.” He tipped his hat to parents though, as they would accept the information lightly, seeing as it often changed the next week. There was also a worry about not having a season, but Bainter said he always told his players they needed to believe there would be a season because if they didn’t and never prepared, the season would arrive and everyone would be struggling. I asked if his expectations for the team were the same as past years, even with all the uncertainty leading up to the season. “My expectations are definitely the same, although we’re going to try and play each game like homecoming games, where seniors are given priority if coming off the bench, whether we’re winning by a lot, or losing and want to give players some minutes on the field.” He was also happy with how the sports “seasons” were laid out, since it gives football a chance to play, and then they get the longest break if sports return to normal during the 2021-22 school year. I asked if he would have liked to be put into the “spring” season and maybe swap spots with a sport from there, and Bainter gave a very hopeful response, “I’m extremely glad the “spring” sports are at the end of the year as usual, since hopefully by then more vaccines will have been administered, and cases will go down giving them a chance at maybe an extended season and being able to play the teams they never got to play last year.”

I was also able to ask Bothell junior, Jimmy Tucker (‘22), a couple questions about what he has been doing leading up to the football season. We started off talking about his preparation, and the team’s, for the upcoming season. “It’s been very different, in past years we had multiple months where we could get together and work as a team to get stronger, faster, and just overall better at football before the actual season. With COVID though, we only got 3 conditioning periods before our first practice.” He expressed a deep worry about sports potentially being canceled again this year like what happened to spring sports last year. “There’s always thoughts that the season would be taken away from us, but I keep thinking positive and [I’m] doing everything I can to make sure I don’t put the team at risk in order to have a full season,” Both Bainter and Tucker share a similar view about the team’s expectations for this abnormal season. Tucker said, “Coach Bainter and the rest of the football staff always hold us accountable and raise our bar in order to make us the best we can be. Our expectation every year is to be crowned as KingCo champs, but with only 4 games, we expect to be the Northshore champs by giving it our all on every play.” He was also able to talk about recruiting, and the ways in which that has changed due to COVID. “Recruiting is difficult and different for every athlete, but this year has been quite hard, especially in this region. Limited film and games make a small sample size, although it’s better than nothing. Other parts of the country have had 8-14 game seasons, providing lots of film and stats for players. Although we are behind and already in difficult circumstances, it’s important we keep our heads high and make sure we can do the best we can in our 4 games.” 

Even with shortened seasons, many athletes are just happy to be back out enjoying their sport and getting to see friends and fellow students who they haven’t seen in a year.  Our district’s athletic directors, coaches, and volunteers are working very hard to keep sports running the safest way possible. With the weekly testing and precautions taken by everyone, the future looks bright for our modified sports seasons.