B.C. School Sports officially suspended all school sporting activities on Tuesday in a memorandum to school athletic directors.
The spring season is a big one for athletes who specialize in track and field, women’s soccer, rugby, badminton, golf, and tennis, among others.
“… In the interest of student-athlete safety, [BCSS] has suspended all school sport-related activities including training, practices, jamborees, scrimmages, matches and similar inter and intra-school sport activities,” reads the memo. “Due to the speed at which things are changing, we will evaluate the situation moving forward, and determine the ability to safely offer a spring season of play at a later date.”
Jake Mouritzen, athletic director at GW Graham and athletic director for the Chilliwack School District, says it was the only move that could be made as the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve.
“It was expected,” Mouritzen said. “It’ll be interesting to see what they do at the college/university level because there’s talk of giving athletes another level of eligibility.
“At the high school and amateur sport levels it’s just going to be shut ‘er down.”
Sports being disrupted at this time of year include rugby and girls soccer.
An idea has been floated about bringing some sports back in June, but Mouritzen feels that’s very unlikely.
“My gut says it’s all done and we’re going to see a full shut down,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone knows.
“A lot of people have given an April 15 date (for making decisions), but I think that’s more an opportunity to breathe and see what happens.”
As far as impact on athletes, there’s concern that cancellations will impact recruiting. Sardis secondary’s senior girls soccer team has made a habit of sending players on to university programs.
Sardis soccer coach Richard Tagle says three graduating players have already signed with university programs: Breanne Weflen and Jo Gemmel at Trinity Western University and Melissa Palmer at the University of the Fraser Valley.
But without a spring season to impress next-level coaches, will other Grade 12 players miss an opportunity?
“I’ve had lots of contact with university coaches who are trying to do what they can with recruiting,” Mouritzen noted. “Unfortunately, for a lot of kids in Grade 12, it’s going to be based on their body of work up to this point.
“Universities will have to communicate with high school and community coaches, because I don’t see it coming back anytime soon.
“And again, in the bigger picture, there’s not much else we can do.”
Big picture, Mouritzen says lots of people use sports as an escape and a way to get through tough times.
“That’s a hard thing not being able to use sports as an escape, because there is no escape right now.”
“All we can do right now is stay hopeful and optimistic that we can get to a place where things start back up.”
Even in a dark time, Mouritzen was able to find a bit of humour though.
His GW Graham Grizzlies won a provincial basketball title a couple weeks ago, the last major sports event that took place before the COVID-19 crisis exploded.
“I think that means that we are world champions,” Mouritzen said with a laugh. “We are the last basketball championship that happened right?
“I am extremely grateful that we were able to get that in before everything shut down.”