In response to a letter sent by the Guam Department of Education on Oct. 25 to the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam, the IIAAG on Thursday issued its response.

In GDOE's letter, some IIAAG teams were invited to participate in the Island Sports Association, others were relegated to postseason play only.

“With regards to the postseason competition proposition and in-season play invitation, all of the members - including the GDOE principals, vice principals and athletic directors - agreed that it was unreasonable for GDOE to expect a response without providing more information, including any proposed schedules and, more importantly, the rules and regulations governing the new league,” IIAAG President Terry Debold stated in a news release.

“The board also agreed that the most practical step, going forward, would be through a joint meeting, sharing open dialogue with GDOE administration concerning the details of your proposal and hopefully address any questions or concerns of non-GDOE school members,” he added.

In-season vs. postseason 

GDOE's proposed in-season competition would allow IIAAG schools to participate in the ISA, the newly created public high school sports league. Postseason play, after the two leagues finished their respective seasons, was suggested.  

"We have given options (to the IIAAG) for postseason play to determine an islandwide champion, ... " Fernandez said.

For third quarter sports, postseason play was offered for boys basketball and tennis. In-season play was extended to rugby and softball.

For fourth quarter sports, the postseason option was offered for girls soccer and boys volleyball. In-season play, for paddling and track and field, was proposed.

For the IIAAG teams not invited to play in-season in the ISA, Fernandez said, "It was not originally offered for those sports, but we are open to suggestions."

“We did not offer, because IIAAG has traditionally suited up at least five or six teams, each season, … similar to the ISA teams," he said. "If IIAAG ran a double round robin and double elimination playoff, that would give each team a minimum of 10 games a season and up to 12 to 14 games, including playoffs.

“That would be the same with the ISA league."

Fernandez, sharing the rationale for determining which sports were invited to compete in the ISA, explained it was a numbers game.

"IIAAG suits up only about three to four teams per sport, which would shorten their season and (be detrimental (to) their interscholastic experience," Fernandez said. "We have opened up our league for those schools to participate in the Interscholastic Sports Association under the ISA rules and bylaws.”

GDOE to invite wrestling, football 

While first and second quarter sports were not addressed in the GDOE letter, Fernandez said, “we will follow the same approach” as third and fourth quarter sports.

“Girls volleyball, cross-country, girls basketball, (and) boys soccer fall under the preseason and postseason option,” Fernandez said. “We will extend the invitation for the IIAAG teams to join our league for wrestling and football.”

There's already enough

With events such as the Shieh Invitational Girls' Volleyball Tournament and the GSPN Preseason Basketball Tournament providing venues for interleague competition, Fernandez is confident enough interleague play already exists.

GDOE is "aware that there are preseason tournaments already sanctioned ... by GDOE in boys basketball, girls soccer and possibly boys volleyball,” he said. “The interaction between our two leagues during these sports will not be lacking."

“But we are also open to any ideas that may be proposed by IIAAG that would fit our schedule.”

Fernandez, citing interleague competition is played throughout the world, is optimistic Guam can follow suit. 

“Traditionally, private schools and public schools - in the mainland and internationally - compete in separate leagues,” he said. "And, many times, they meet at postseason tournaments to determine the champions in their district. We see that happening in the future. But for Guam, it would be the islandwide champion.”

IIAAG counting on GDOE

With GDOE’s IIAAG membership intact through the SY2019-2020, Debold expects the public schools to "continue to be anticipated as participants in the IIAAG league schedules.”

“All of our members share the inherent responsibility to ensure that the life experience our youth attain through the spirit of sports should unify, rather than segregate our island community," he said.

Fernandez, showing no sign of reconciling with IIAAG, said he hopes to receive IIAAG’s decision whether they will participate in the ISA "by Nov. 15."

“We are excited about the launch of this new league, but we also recognize the value of the camaraderie that has been built through competition amongst GDOE, Guam High and private school student-athletes," Fernandez said. "Because of this, we wanted to open up the possibility of continued competition through the third and fourth quarter of this school year.”