PREPS: Port Townsend, Chimacum heading up 1A Olympic League division

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Since he was hired as athletic director for the Port Townsend School District in mid-August, Scott Wilson has been working on establishing the best league situation for Port Townsend High School.

His focus has been singular.

“What we really want to do is what will be the best thing for the kids,” Wilson said Tuesday.

“We are in the business of helping kids.”

Along with Chimacum athletic director Gary Coyan and Klahowya athletic director Todd Winters, Wilson is trying to create a Class 1A division within the Olympic League.

Wilson and Coyan met soon after Wilson was hired to find the best situation for both schools.

“We understand that Port Townsend and Chimacum are stronger together,” Coyan said.

Those three have set out to recruit other schools for the league.

Coupeville, Forks and Vashon Island have been invited to join the league.

Currently, Coupeville seems to be the most likely to join.

Forks athletic director Mark Feasel told the Peninsula Daily News on Tuesday that his school is planning to remain in the 1A Evergreen League.

Vashon hasn’t been consistently communicating with the 1A Olympic League athletic directors.

Wilson said Coupeville is open to the idea, but the school is on the verge of being in Class 2B.

Tuesday was the last day for schools to “opt up” to a higher classification, or rescind their decision to opt up.

With an enrollment of 225, Coupeville is the smallest tied with Columbia of Burbank as the smallest 1A school in the state.

If one 2B school chooses to opt up, it knocks down Coupeville or Columbia.

Even if Coupeville is reclassified, Wilson said it doesn’t mean they won’t be included in the 1A Olympic League, because Coupeville could elect to opt up and retain its 1A status.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Wilson said of the four-team 1A division.

“It’s fair competition, like-sized schools and like-minded communities.

“And a clear shot at the postseason.”

Port Townsend, Klahowya and Chimacum all have solid reasons to join the new league. Mainly, competition, class time and travel time.

Klahowya currently is a member of the 2A Olympic League, but its enrollment numbers now place it in Class 1A.

Chimacum is a member of the 1A Nisqually League.

“Geographically, we are in a tough spot as a 1A public school,” Coyan said Tuesday.

“In the Nisqually League, a majority of the schools are private schools; we can’t relate to them a lot.”

Private schools can be more selective with their enrollment, which gives them a competitive advantage.

And a lot of those schools are located in the Tacoma or Seattle area.

Coyan said Chimacum’s shortest road trip within the Nisqually League is to Life Christian Academy in Tacoma, which is a two-hour and 40 minute trip.

It’s longest trip is to Eatonville, a five-hour round trip. (Eatonville is joining Forks in the 1A Evergreen League next year, and will be nearly an eight-hour round trip for the Spartans).

To make those trips, Chimacum athletes must leave school early. And since many of them play three sports, they are missing class time throughout the school year.

“My number one thing, hands down is to keep kids in class where they are learning,” Coyan said.

Port Townsend is the only 1A school in the current Olympic League in all sports except football, in which it belongs to the Nisqually League.

To make the postseason, the Redskins must finish tied for seventh place or better. And that only earns them a chance to play in a pigtail game for the chance to advance to districts.

Wilson said a four-team 1A Olympic League would provide a “clear shot to the playoffs. No weird agreements.”

Feasel said joining the Olympic League “would be cool,” but after crunching some numbers, he found the travel time in the new Olympic League wouldn’t much of an improvement for Forks, even with Evergreen’s addition of Eatonville.

“It wouldn’t save us anything,” Feasel said.

“We’re in a special situation where we’re two hours away from every other [1A] school.”

Instead, Feasel said Evergreen is going to add Class 2A Aberdeen and keep Rochester, which has grown into a 2A school, and lose Rainier, now a 2B school.

Feasel added that is isn’t his decision to make alone, and that the Forks district administration appeared to favor staying in the Evergreen League.

Coyan said Vashon has indicated to him that it intends to remain in the Nisqually League.

“We would love it if Forks and Vashon joined the new 1A division [of the Olympic League],” Wilson said.

South Whidbey also was approached, but it will remain in the Cascade Conference.

Coyan said that even if Forks and Vashon don’t join the Olympic League now, they might want to do so in two years when before the next reclassification cycle.

Coyan said that he has filed paper work to the current Olympic League, requesting to become a member, with the intention to do so in every sport but football.

If the 1A Olympic League falls through, he said Chimacum’s options would be to stay in the Nisqually League for only football or play an independent schedule.

But, he added that he first meet with Wilson and Winters to see what can be worked out.

Wilson and Coyan said the league situation likely will be ironed out within the next, so that schools can start making next season’s fall schedules.

If Coupeville were to join, Wilson said there would likely be agreements between the schools to send their buses to the ferry terminals to pick up the visiting teams on their side of the water so that the traveling school would only pay for the walk-on ferry rate.

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Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 07. 2014 6:27PM
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