Tuesday, April 7, 2020
April 7, 2020

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WIAA taking steps to keep players, fans safe from coronavirus

High Schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:

Mick Hoffman came to Battle Ground Saturday to watch some teams play in the first state basketball tournament games under his direction as the executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Instead, he spent much of his time Saturday on the phone or standing in front of a camera, talking to the media about the recent coronavirus outbreak in the state and how the WIAA is dealing with it.

“We’ve been working with the state department of health for a few days,” Hoffman said. “They’re the experts, so we’re just following their recommendations and leads.”

On Friday night, at the very same time the first games of the regional round of the state were tipping off, the state department of health announced the first two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

One of those confirmed cases was a student at Jackson High School in Mill Creek.

Jackson was scheduled to host four regional round games on Saturday, but officials closed the school through at Monday as they work to clean and disinfect the campus.

The WIAA quickly moved those four games to Shorewood High School in Shoreline. One of those games involved the Camas girls basketball team.

The three games scheduled Saturday at Battle Ground went on as planned, even though one of the participating teams was from Jackson High.

That decision was made with the consultation of the state department of health, Hoffman said.

“If the state department of health says it’s safe, then it’s safe,” Hoffman said.

The steps the WIAA took to keep things safe were evident from the moment fans stepped into the gym at Battle Ground High School.

Fans were lined up to get into the gym while the maintenance staff wiped down all doors and handrails. Fans were also encouraged to use hand sanitizer with bottles placed throughout the facility.

“Just like with any virus, (the) recommendation is try to disinfect the high-touch areas as much as possible,” Hoffman said. “So we had to bring in an extra custodian, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

The thing about the line that delayed entry into Battle Ground was that there was still a line to get in.

The coronavirus scare didn’t appear to keep fans away from Battle Ground, or elsewhere across the state for that matter.

“There have been great crowds,” Hoffman said. “I was up at Mark Morris this morning and we had great crowds up there too. I’ve been checking in with the folks up north and in central, and it’s the same thing.”

On Wednesday, the WIAA will open the Hardwood Classics for Class 4A and 3A at the Tacoma Dome, 2A and 1A at the Yakima Valley SunDome and 2B and 1B at the Spokane Arena.

If you are sick, stay home. If you’re are concerned, stay home. The NFHS Network is offering web broadcasts for about $10 – not per game, but for all of the games of all tournaments. A pretty good deal if you think about it.

But if you’d rather be there in person and plan to travel to Tacoma, Yakima or Spokane this week, Hoffman said the WIAA is doing everything it can to keep players and fans safe.

“People who are sick should stay home,” he said. “If they’re not feeling well already, it’s best to stay home. But if we’re allowed to run (the tournaments), then it’s safe.”

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep editor for The Columbian. He can be reached at (360) 735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.

26 Photos
The Union Titans celebrate their victory over the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups at Battle Ground High School on Saturday evening, Feb. 29, 2020. (Zach Wilkinson/for The Columbian)
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