While Oak Harbor High School is considering moving to a different athletic conference next school year, Coupeville’s move to a new league is a done deal.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association conducted its once-every-four-years enrollment count this fall, and Coupeville will drop a classification from 1A to 2B.
The Wolves will now compete in the Northwest 2B/1B League with Concrete, Darrington, Friday Harbor, La Conner, Mount Vernon Christian and Orcas Island.
The three other 1A public schools (Granite Falls, South Whidbey and Sultan) from Coupeville’s current league, the North Sound Conference, also reached out to the Northwest League to determine whether it would be interested in forming a 1A/2B/1B league.
When the new WIAA enrollment count was completed, the Northwest League went from five 2B schools to only three (Coupeville, La Conner and Friday Harbor); therefore, the conference decided it would not be beneficial to include the 1A schools.
At that point, the 2B and 1A schools considered forming their own league.
Concurrently, The Emerald City League reached out to the North Sound Conference, which also includes private schools Cedar Park Christian and King’s, to see if they would be interested in joining their league, according to Willie Smith, Coupeville athletic director.
“(This) would create a league of 12-14 teams and allow for divisions of strength within the league,” Smith said. “This was very appealing to all of the NSC schools, as competitive equity has been an area of major concern.”
Taking into consideration competitive equity, travel and same seasons (1A boys soccer plays in the spring; 2B plays in the fall), the North Sound Conference 1A schools decided to merge with Emerald City League and form the Emerald Sound League, while Coupeville heads to the Northwest League.
Smith said Coupeville is “very excited” to join its new league.
“It’s a strong group of athletic directors, which we have maintained relationships with over the years in non-league contests,” he said. “The level of competition will be strong, requiring us to continue to work to develop our programs, and it also allows all of our programs the opportunity to have success on a nightly basis and compete for league championships throughout.
“Obviously, there are challenges, but we always have challenges, which is what makes our programs stronger.”