NWAC postpones league play 2 weeks

The Northwest Athletic Conference announced on Dec. 28 that the start of men’s and women’s basketball league play will be pushed back two weeks.

“In light of the new variant, it gives the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee time to review and adjust safety protocols for basketball to try to keep people as safe as possible,” said Marco Azurdia, executive director of the NWAC in an email sent to all NWAC member colleges.

Peninsula’s first four games — against Edmonds, Everett, Bellevue and Shoreline — will be moved to the end of the season. The 2022 NWAC Basketball Championships are now scheduled for March 17-27, at Everett Community College.

The Pirate men and women travel to Skagit Valley Jan. 19 for their league openers.

“We’re all tired of everything COVID, but it’s not going away,” Rick Ross, Peninsula College’s associate dean for athletics and student life, said in a press release.

“Our players and coaches are resilient and will be ready to go on Jan. 19.”

The delay gives the NWAC Sports Medicine Advisory Committee time to update its’ safety protocols scheduled to happen later this week, college officials note, and it buys some time for testing athletes and staff returning from winter break.

“It seems we’re likely to have some cases when our players return this week and hopefully this will reduce the impact of those cases, not only on the individuals, but also on their teams,” Ross said.

Athletes will have more time to get in playing shape and, for those who wish to, additional time to get their booster shot, Ross said.

“We don’t know yet what ‘fully vaccinated’ means and how that will be used in the new safety protocols,” Ross said. “I’m guessing the rules for exposures and quarantines might depend on the varying levels of vaccinations, but it’s a moving target. All we can do is keep our focus on the health and safety of our student athletes and staff, and work to support all of them, regardless of their vaccination status, the best way we can.”

The NWAC’s decision to delay the start of league play followed a meeting of the Basketball Coaches Committee, which includes North Region women’s basketball chair Ali Crumb, Peninsula’s head women’s coach, and also a poll of the NWAC Executive Board, which includes Ross and Peninsula College president Luke Robins.