The Inchelium School football field, which has been recently modernized, sits covered in a blanket of snow, Oct. 26.

Construction funded in part through Inchelium district Qwam Qwmpt funds

INCHELIUM - When the Inchelium High School Football team made it to the WIAA State Championship tournament in 2016, they had home field advantage. The problem was that their homefield was unable to host the game due to a WIAA standard that requires a fence around the facility.

So, in their home field advantage in the playoffs, the Inchelium Hornets traveled to Kettle Falls to play in the first round of the state football tournament.

Inchelium lost, falling to Odessa-Harringon, who would go on to place second.

Never again will Inchelium have to forfeit their home field advantage. Over the last several years, the Inchelium School district has worked to modernize their football field with a construction project funded in part by the Inchelium district’s tribal Qwam Qwmpt Funds.

“The board members from the start said we needed to do this,” said Inchelium School District Superintendent Kim Spacek. “We have not had a season on it, but I think people are looking forward to having a season on it in the spring, March to April. I think people are looking forward to that.”

In 2016, the community gave the school $400,000 from the district’s Qwam Qwmpt money, an allocation of $1 million provided by the Colville Tribes to each of the four districts on the Colville Indian Reservation for community projects. Then in 2019, the district had a surplus of approximately $600,000 from federal impact aid they had not been expecting, said Spacek. 

“We put that together into a $1 million upgrade of our football field and track facility,” the superintendent explained.

The construction project has included installation of four 70 foot light poles with LED lights (and Spacek noted the poles include special lights that shine upward to illuminate high-flying footballs in night games), an upgraded score board and new goal posts, a newly graded field, a state of the art “smart” sprinkler system, a new fence surrounding the facility and a new 80-car parking lot near the softball field with additional lighting. 

Along with the football field, the construction features a foundation for a track under the grass, and Spacek explained, “If there is a future time when we decide to put the track in, we just have to dig the grass up and put it in.”

The project was designed by Architects West, who also designed the Lucy F. Covington Government Center in Nespelem, and the school district worked with the Colville Tribes concerning an easement for the new parking lost.

The school district also purchased a new lawn mower, aerator and spreader, according to Spacek.

While construction was completed last fall, the project included a 90-day maintenance that started in July 2020 - now the field is simply waiting for athletes.

In Oct., the WIAA announced new guidance for school sports based on the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in any given county as well as the percentage of positive tests. 

The WIAA release reads, “These revised guidelines give greater flexibility to school administrators to offer education-based athletics and activities and meet the demand of their students and communities. The WIAA Executive Board and staff are pleased with the work that has been done to allow students to be more involved with their schools, as participation in the school setting provides safer and more equitable opportunities for students, especially during this time.”

Football, which is classified as a high risk sport under the WIAA guidelines, will require less than 75 cases/100,000/14 days or less than a 5 percent positivity rate.

Ferry County, where Inchelium School is located, is currently reporting a 0.0 percent rate per 100k of newly diagnosed cases over two weeks, according to Washington State Department of Health.

The WIAA football season is currently scheduled to start with a practice period from Feb. 17 to March 1, and a season from March 1 to the end of April.

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