Both Niagara school boards await news on pandemic

Like every other sporting administrator in Ontario, local high school convenors are in the dark as to when sports will be allowed to return to normal.

“There is nothing yet,” said Rina Rode, the District School Board of Niagara sports convenor. “OFSAA [Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations] is having its AGM on June 2 and 3 and they have a rather large order paper. There are a number of motions that are being covered and I assume there will be some sort of discussion on moving forward at that time.”

Niagara Catholic Athletic Association sports convenor Chris McLean is also awaiting news.

“No one really knows what is going to happen so we just plan as if the season is occurring in the fall,” he said. “It is the same thing we were doing with the spring sports. We were planning and just waiting for every announcement to come out. You want to have kids involved in sports but it is a difficult situation and no one can predict. You just have to wait on the government and health officials.”

McLean typically doesn’t work on schedules until June when the schools have indicated what teams are being run in each sport.

“There are a lot of unknowns, so I might do a six-, seven-, or eight-game schedule and once we know the schools, we just have to punch them in,” he said. “It’s not complicated and I don’t find that the difficult part. The difficult part moving forward is if sports are allowed, what will be the changes that are going to occur with that? No one can predict it.”

The DSBN won’t be making any decisions until it has guidance.

“There have definitely been some ideas tossed around and we are moving ahead with finding convenors as per normal and we are thinking about having a SOSSA [Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association] AGM as well, but it is a waiting game,” Rode said.

The SOSSA AGM is scheduled for June 23, according to the association’s website.

Rode is staying busy despite the pandemic.

“Some things are getting done. I cleaned up the website and I have to update the constitution and the playing regulations,” she said. “Once the OFSAA AGM is over, I will have a bunch of motions that will have to be placed in our local regulations.”

A meeting will be held in the next little while which will include Rode, McLean, Zone 1 convenor Mike Grobe and SOSSA executive administrative director Brian Fuller.

“We will find convenors for each of the various activities and we are moving ahead as if everything is going to be normal, but we are just waiting it out,” Rode said.

Fall sports at the high school level includes football, girls basketball, boys volleyball, cross country, golf, field hockey, tennis and ultimate Frisbee.

McLean and Rode are hoping for the best.

“For kids, it’s important to be moving for their health and well-being,” McLean said. “A lot of kids really depend on it and that is their enjoyment with school. Hopefully things can get up and running but it’s tough in today’s culture. I am sure everyone is struggling a little bit.”

Rode agrees with that sentiment.

“But at the same time, if professional sports and university sports aren’t going, I don’t know how we find a way to make high schools sports go. It is all from a health perspective at this point in time,” she said.

“Mentally it is a huge loss and what about the kids who are coming back for 12B because of sports? Will they even come back? And what about those trying to get scholarships?”