by Ryan Wilson
Orcas School District Athletic Director
Last March all of our lives drastically changed.
School after school closed their doors, canceling in-person learning, social events and athletic events for the foreseeable future from the unknown virus that was crossing the world and changing our norm. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Our student-athletes and parents constantly reached out, asking for any type of updates for practices, games, or anything that could give them hope in getting back into the gym or back onto the field with their teammates. Word came in the last week of June when the WIAA released guidelines and procedures, that if implemented, schools could open their facilities on Monday, July 6.
Principal Kyle Freeman lent tremendous support and guidance as we produced our own guidelines and procedures that were in a clear and concise format that would allow our student-athletes to return to campus to reconvene training with their peers. Superintendent Webb approved our proposal. We began training our coaches and student-athletes to learn how to safely and effectively re-enter our facilities in order to train and play in the sports they love.
Since July 6, many of our programs including soccer, boys and girls basketball, volleyball and cross country, have been offering our student-athletes two to five workouts per sport each week. We have offered around 400 training sessions and have had thousands of bodies move through campus since early July with zero positive COVID-19 cases.
Principal Freeman and Superintendent Eric Webb put forth trust and belief in our coaches, student-athletes, and athletic department to offer activities while not many schools were doing so. Schools within our league have just stepped foot in their facilities for the first time last week, whereas our coaches and students have been able to train for the past eight months.
Our coaching staff is nothing short of dedicated, committed, hard-working and talented in what they do and what they provide our young people. The amount of time they are willing to commit to our student-athletes is inspiring. Their families reflect the same commitment. Our coaches would not be able to teach our student-athletes without their own families’ constant support and encouragement.
Coaching on Orcas requires a huge time commitment which can oftentimes put a strain on family life. Our coaches’ employers are also incredibly notable for allowing our staff to be flexible with their schedules. Most of our off-island trips require coaches to be gone from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Orcas coaches usually travel off-island eight to 12 times a season. While this is a major commitment, it is one our staff is eager to accept because they understand the importance of service to others by modeling and teaching student-athletes to be people of high character through athletics.
Our staff represents “transformational coaching” rather than “transactional coaching.” They strive to have a personal relationship with each student-athlete to help them over the course of their lives compared to not just seeing them as another body to help coaches win games. Winning games is fun, but it is a by-product of having a transformational program. Listed are examples of what our staff has been teaching our student-athletes:
• Take ownership of your life and actions
• Aspire to excellence in anything you do
• Refuse to gossip or affiliate yourself with gossip (I like to say everyone carries a can of gas and a can of water)
• Be on time and keep your promises
• Service to others is paramount to a happy life
• Tell the truth all the time (even if it is not advantageous for you)
• Ask for help if you need it
The featured coaching staff has been providing tremendous opportunities for our student-athletes through the years and through a pandemic. Their dedication and desire in providing countless opportunities to our student-athletes and committing daily to excellence is the true success of our program.