Huntsville High School athletes have a very different season ahead.
The Ontario Federation of Secondary Athletic Associations (OFSAA) announced last week that its 2021 events in the following sports would be cancelled: snowboarding, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, curling, girls volleyball, boys basketball, hockey, swimming, and wrestling.
“After a meeting of our Return to Sports Working Group in recent days, OFSAA’s Executive Council determined that the current reopening regulations within the province have not progressed to the point where our winter championships and festivals can take place,” the organization said in a statement.
OFSAA’s Return to Sports Working Group is comprised of school administrators, teachers, a director of education, a public health official, and OFSAA staff, and said it will continue to monitor the feasibility of OFSAA spring events.
The announcement didn’t come as a surprise, noted HHS athletic director Ross Clarke. Post-secondary sports organizations Ontario University Athletics (OUA), University Sports Canada (USports), and Ontario College Athletic Associations (OCAA) all cancelled both fall and winter sports programs.
“OFSAA followed suit. It was kind of predictable that was going to happen especially with the hotspots in the province because an OFSAA event brings people from across the province,” said Clarke.
In addition, board-level direction for schools within Trilliums Lakelands District School Board mean that there are no field trips, and therefore no competitive travel for sports, noted Clarke.
“There aren’t going to be any sports teams at Huntsville High School over the winter,” he said. “Our fingers are crossed that conditions will improve and that the school board is going to lessen the precautions that we are taking right now. So far I think staff and students are doing a pretty good job at keeping safe and a lot of energy and time is being put into it inside the buildings… But the only hope we have for any sports for the school year would be the spring sports.”
Students across the province are faced with the same disruption to their high school and post-secondary athletics careers. If restrictions are lifted in time for fall sports to proceed at a post-secondary level, high school students graduating this year could face a “double cohort” scenario, said Clarke. “Moving into next fall, our grade 12s might be faced with competing with those students who had already graduated [last year but deferred acceptance for a year]trying out as first-year athletes. It could make it very competitive.”
Those who do want to continue with their chosen sport beyond high school will have to be “very self-motivated,” said Clarke. “There are certain sports that just aren’t running in the community either” while others are running in a limited capacity.
Some students have created their own, unsanctioned training opportunities, getting together outside of school.
“We’re hopeful [for spring sports],” said Clarke. “We look forward to giving back to sport and coaching kids after the school day is over.”
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