Hermiston v Pasco

Hermiston Head Coach David Faaeteete speaks with his players during the first half of a 2019 game against Pasco, Wash.

HERMISTON — David Faaeteete was happy to see the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association move football to Season 1 during its Wednesday, Jan. 6, meeting, but for the Hermiston football coach, the announcement also comes with hesitation.

The WIAA’s executive board, made up of 13 school administrators from across the state, decided the traditional fall sports season can begin with practice on Monday, Feb. 1. Those sports include football, girls soccer, volleyball, cross-country, and girls swimming and diving, among others.

“It’s exciting, but this could all change tomorrow,” Faaeteete said. “It’s promising, but you are nervous as a coach. You don’t want to feed your kids false information.”

Football was in Season 2, but with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s new Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan that was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 5, the WIAA changed course.

“The change in guidelines allow all traditional fall sports to be played in Phase 2 while we still do not have a clear pathway to the high risk indoor activities of basketball, competitive cheer and dance, and wrestling,” WIAA Executive Director Mick Hoffman said in a news release. “With that in mind, moving fall sports to Season 1 will hopefully provide the most opportunities to participate.”

Season 1 is scheduled for seven weeks, ending on Saturday, March 20. The WIAA Executive Board will review Seasons 2 and 3 at its Tuesday, Jan. 19, meeting.

Hermiston is between a rock and a hard place, being an Oregon school playing in a Washington conference (Mid-Columbia Conference). While the logistics make sense, the politics in both states makes things difficult.

In Oregon, guidelines for K-12 school sports are now based on a county’s COVID-19 risk level (lower, moderate, high, extreme), according to a Jan. 6 news release by the Oregon Health Authority.

Umatilla and Morrow counties are at an extreme risk level, limiting sports for the time being.

All of Washington is in Phase 1, which does not allow high school sports. Certain high school sports will be allowed in Phase 2.

Faaeteete said all of the Hermiston head coaches will have a meeting next week with Athletic Director Larry Usher to get a better sense of everything.

“You just have to focus on what you can control — effort, attitude and preparation,” Faaeteete said. “You have to try and give the kids an opportunity to live a dream and stamp their legacy on the program.”

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The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin contributed to this report.

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