By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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And now that the decision has been made, Port Townsend doesn’t want to waste any time before making the move.
The Redskins are a member of the 2A Olympic League in all sports but football, in which they compete in the Nisqually League, a 1A classification.
Last month Port Townsend approached the Nisqually League asking for full-fledged admittance starting with the winter sports season.
The request was denied, so Port Townsend has appealed the decision to the West Central District and hopes to receive a decision later this week.
“It is unusual to make the request now,” Port Townsend athletic director Patrick Kane said.
“But we want what’s best for the athletes to play in the postseason, and the best way is to play in 1A.”
Much of Port Townsend’s desire to join the Nisqually League stems from a controversial decision earlier this year that prevented the girls basketball team from making the postseason.
To make the 1A postseason, the Redskins needed to finish in fifth place or better in the Olympic League. They tied for fifth with Klahowya, but because the Eagles swept the season series the Redskins were denied a playoff berth.
“It’s hard to play a season and not know where you’re headed,” Port Townsend girls basketball coach Randy Maag said.
“When you play in the Nisqually League, you finish where you finish. You are what you are.”
Kane said that after the controversy, some parents of the players hired an attorney who has been working with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to rectify the decision.
Maag has been a proponent of moving to the Nisqually League for a last few years.
Along with better-defined playoff entry rules, which he said change every year, Maag said playing against bigger schools on a consistent basis takes a toll on his players.
“Another big thing is the depth issue,” Maag said.
“Night in and night out playing against bigger schools is difficult.”
According to the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association, Port Townsend’s enrollment is 370.
By comparison, Bremerton, the largest school in the Olympic League has an enrollment of 1,079. Port Angeles is second with 1,070.
At 544, Klahowya has the smallest enrollment in the Olympic League.
Sequim is near the middle with an enrollment of 725.
The Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association’s enrollment range for 2A is 513 to 1085.
The range for 1A is 208 to 512, so Port Townsend’s enrollment isn’t even towards the top of 1A.
Maag downplays the one drawback of playing in the Nisqually League, increased travel, saying that it is part of the experience.
Also, he likes that Nisqually League boys and girls basketball teams travel together on road trips, which builds camaraderie among the teams and means the fans, buses, staffs and sometimes families aren’t split between the two teams.
Kane admits that joining the Nisqually League for the winter sports is a long shot, but is hopeful that Port Townsend will be allowed to join the Nisqually League for the spring sports season.
The Olympic League prefers Port Townsend remain a member for the entire school year, but hopes it stays until at least the spring.
“We understand that it’s really not our call,” Sequim athletic director Dave Ditlefsen said.
“Our opinion is we’re hoping the decision could hold off until spring. At least that gives us time to prepare.
“If Port Townsend left [the Olympic League] right now, it would be a pretty big inconvenience.”
Ditlefsen said that the schedules, officials and travel arrangements have already been made for the winter games.
If Port Townsend leaves now, Olympic League teams would need to scramble to fill the holes in their schedules with non-league opponents or settle for having an additional bye.