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SAAS: Message from Rob Phillips on
Athletics League Update

Dear SAAS Community, 

It's official: SAAS is formally a member of the Metro League. The SAAS Upper School athletic program will be competing in the Metro League starting this Fall. Since our last communication to you in March, we've been in engaged in process and discussion with the WIAA and the Metro League, and this past week the Metro agreed to accept SAAS's application, and the WIAA's continued support for that application.

A reminder about a precipitating factor for our application: in recent years, SAAS has been a 1A school by classification, which is a function of enrollment numbers. Our current league - the Emerald Sound conference - is a 1A only league. SAAS will be a 2A school by enrollment for the 2024-25 school year, and the classification cycle is for four years. Metro has for years been a 3A only league, and the schools in the league that are smaller have "opted up" to 3A to be participants. A condition of Metro's acceptance of SAAS and of the WIAA's support for our application is that SAAS compete as a 3A school, a condition that the other private schools with similar enrollment numbers are complying with.

We have agreed to that condition for this classification cycle. Metro is creating schedules and divisions that recognize the vast competitive differences among schools in the league, and has pledged to place SAAS in a division with schools at a comparable competitive level. Divisions and schedules haven't been created yet, so more to come as we move towards the Fall season.

For several of our sports - lacrosse and ultimate specifically - we compete outside of the WIAA, so the question of league or classification is not tied to the discussion above, and those sports will see little to no change in who they play or what their postseason path looks like. Similarly, the impact of division and schedules for individual sports such as track and golf will be different than for sports such as basketball, volleyball and soccer. You can view the athletics season chart for 2024-2025 here.

An additional benefit to the move to the Metro League is the positive impact this will have for our JV programs. In our current 1A league, few of the schools have JV programs, and where they do offer JV teams it's typically just one. Our turnout for SAAS programs typically results in 2 or even 3 JV teams, but we struggle to find an opponent for them to play. As a result, we've struggled to fulfill our goal of supporting Participation and Excellence. The Metro League schools have a much fuller slate of JV programs to schedule, which will result in a more meaningful experience for our JV athletes, while also providing a positive competitive challenge for SAAS varsity teams and athletes.

Currently, SAAS teams have often struggled with the competitive imbalance with the smaller schools in the Emerald Sound 1A conference, and as a result are often focused more on avoiding running up the score than developing their skills and competing as a team. And for those student-athletes who are striving to continue their athletic pursuits after high school, participating in the Metro League will provide them with opportunities for improvement and visibility.

Finally, change to local leagues will significantly reduce our current levels of travel, including the impact of early dismissals. The schools in the Metro League are closer than many of the schools in the Emerald Sound conference, especially the Metro League. Currently, the academic impact on the last class of the day is problematic given game travel to league members like South Whidbey, Sultan and Granite Falls.

The Middle School program will be unaffected by this change - we currently compete in the CYO and CrossTown Middle School League, and plan to continue in those leagues.

More to come, and lots to be excited about. The Metro league was founded in 1912, and has a long and proud history that SAAS is honored to become a part of.

As always, feel free to reach out with questions and feedback. Go Cardinals! 

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Rob Phillips

Head of School