Practices and policies for summer facilities use

Summer has officially begun by WIAA standards, opening the books to the sometimes confusing summer rules employed by the state’s regulator of high school athletics.

Technically, once the last day of the final state tournament in the spring, hosted by WIAA, is over, the high school athletic year is complete. This opens the door to three months, approximately, when teams can meet in preparation for the year to come. The summer is often used by fall sports athletes and coaches to prepare for the fall season.

The window period when WIAA does not allow sports-related activities begins Aug. 1 and runs until the first day of that specific sport’s turnout. This means that coaches and athletes cannot meet within this time period for official practices, and they cannot plan or prepare for the upcoming season.

However, individual athletes are able to continue conditioning, and small groups can work on specific skills, as long as they are not team-sanctioned events. Many schools during the summer months provide open gyms and access to facilities for students, as well as the community, as allowed by WIAA. According to the WIAA handbook, open facilities are acceptable during the offseason. As long as they are part of the school district’s organized recreation or activity plan, all activities are open to the entire student body. Students can choose between activities during which time there is no coaching or when supervision is provided by the district. The handbook rules also stipulate that participation in open gyms should not be a requirement for membership in a school’s team. The same rules apply to any year-round conditioning programs that schools offer.

During the summer, students are able to use facilities like the gyms through camp organized by various coaches, according to Craig Olson, Mercer Island High School athletic director. He said that while the community has access to the MIHS stadium and field, any other event outside of student use is scheduled through the City of Mercer Island. Students’ use of facilities is heavily advertised at the school, Olson said, adding that it offers a way for students to practice for the upcoming sports season.

Costs to the district for these open gyms vary for the length of time and the facilities being used, Olson said, but mostly it comes down to paying the coaches to supervise and custodians to clean following the camps. The coaches are usually paid $24 or $25 an hour. Custodians typically receive $30 an hour, but Olson said those costs can quickly rise if someone is asked to work late, bringing overtime into the picture. These costs are covered by registration fees, Olson said.

Prior to the beginning of the season, despite the dead period, coaches are allowed to organize one meeting with incoming freshman from the middle school who may be interested in playing that particular sport. In addition, coaches may meet once with the team before the first day of practice to give out equipment and discuss the season plan, insurance or other related housekeeping topics.

View a copy of the WIAA handbook and other state athletic information at

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