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Guam High to return to Far East tourneys in four sports

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 27, 2019

After a five-year absence, Guam High is returning to Far East tournaments in four sports whose seasons match up with the rest of DODEA-Pacific’s districts.

“We’re very excited,” Guam High principal Jason Sheedy said after it was announced that Panthers teams could participate in Far East tournaments in girls soccer, track and field, cross country and girls volleyball.

It will be Guam High’s first time back in Far East competition since spring 2013. In September of that year, DODEA’s Guam district announced in a letter that the school would withdraw from Far East competition in all sports.

The letter cited that six of Guam’s 10 sports seasons are held at different times of the school year than DODEA-Pacific’s, and that Guam’s sports schedules exceeded the number of games and competitions permitted by DODEA-Pacific.

In early September, Sheedy entered into discussions with DODEA’s Pacific South district and the Pacific area office concerning “why they don’t get to participate” in Far East tournaments, DODEA-Pacific athletics coordinator Tom McKinney said.

Sheedy also asked that DODEA-Pacific consider reinstating Guam High in the four sports whose dates align with the rest of the region and the request was granted, McKinney said.

“Our volleyball and cross country athletes are very excited,” Sheedy said. “This should boost the enrollment in each of those sports.”

In past years, Guam teams could participate in all Far East sports, no matter whether their island schedules married up with those in the rest of DODEA-Pacific. That relationship dated back to the 1960s in boys basketball.

While the decision to withdraw from Far East in 2013 affected all Guam schools, the current decision affects only Guam High.

For the last two decades, Guam’s public and private schools have competed in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam in all sports.

And while DODEA-Pacific schools in Korea, Japan and Okinawa have operated on  a three-season sports calendar, Guam has had a four-season calendar in which only some sports matched up date-wise with DODEA Pacific’s.

Compounding things, Guam’s public Department of Education and the IIAAG’s private schools announced late last school year that they would go their separate ways starting with the 2019-20 third-quarter schedule that includes boys basketball, tennis and softball, officials in both entities said.

Officials familiar with the issue said moving to three-season sports calendars is being discussed, but no decisions have been made.

Asked about the possibility of more schools from Guam joining Far East competitions, McKinney said: “We’ll see what develops.”

Asked if it would be possible to bring Guam High in to the DODEA-Pacific Division I football schedule, McKinney said it’s being discussed but there’s “nothing definite yet.”

ornauer.dave@stripes.com
Twitter: @daveornauer

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