Williamstown’s Wendell Lafave, a marathoner who’s completed runs in every Canadian province, every U.S. state, and many other places around the world (including Antarctica), finished the Ottawa Virtual Marathon on Sunday.
The event was organized following last month’s cancellation of Race Weekend in the nation’s capital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Ottawa Marathon is a popular course for many from our region, with some using it as a qualifier for the storied Boston Marathon. The Boston run, along with the St. Lawrence Marathon (Cornwall) are among other 2020 events that have been cancelled.
As described on the Ottawa Virtual Marathon website, organizers have chosen to go virtual this year, extending the participation opportunity through to September 7.
“CANADA’S BIGGEST MARATHON WEEKEND HAS GONE VIRTUAL!”
Athletes are encouraged to “run your race at your pace while adhering to the physical distancing guidelines provided by your local public health agencies … Ottawa Virtual Race Weekend 2020 participants will receive all the amenities of a live, in-person event: a customizable race bib, commemorative finisher medal and T-shirt, option to upload finish times to the Sportstats results platform, plus a few surprises from our event partners.”
Participants will also receive a 50 percent entry fee reduction for the 2021 run, which hopefully will return to the streets of Ottawa.
In addition to the marathon distance, there are shorter runs available (half marathon, 10 km, 5 km, 2 km), as well as a kids run of 1.2 km.
On March 14, the hockey season came to an abrupt end across the country, as Hockey Canada announced the immediate suspension of all activities in response to health advice related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst the groups affected was the North Glen-Stor Minor Hockey Association, which saw games cancelled, and eventually the remainder of the playoff season. Along with that came the cancelling of the traditional end-of-season celebration, where awards are handed out. So for 2020, the honourees were recognized virtually.
Using the group’s Facebook page, players and volunteers across the association were honoured.
Here are the special award recipients (NGSMHA graphics)…
The Alexandria Glens of the CCHL2 have a new head coach, and his name is a familiar one in local hockey circles, as Carl Robillard has been named to the post to guide North Glengarry’s junior ‘B’ hockey team into the 2020-21 season.
The Wendover resident has an extensive coaching background at the top level of minor hockey.
As Robillard puts it, “I actually know many of the players on the current roster and others who will compete for roster spots on this team.”
The new bench boss notes, “Although there are definite changes on the horizon, I know there is potential for this group of young men. We expect to ice a young team with a sprinkle of key veterans to help lead the way. Our goal is to make the playoffs this coming season while establishing a reputation within the league as being a very hard team to play against every single night. This is a staple of my teams from the past and this team will be no different.”
On what he predicts for fans, Robillard says, “We will bring a mix of skill, speed, and compete in all phases of the game. Once we build our young core, we expect to compete for a championship for years to come. That is our ultimate goal once the puck drops to start our season.”
In announcing the new head coach of the Glens, general manager Derick Viau described the 50-year-old Robillard as “a bright coach and great leader who has a track record of both effectively developing young players and successfully motivating veterans.” He added, “We love his coaching resume and are confident that he has learned from every stop during his career, and has the best skill set to get the maximum potential out of our team.”
Viau was my guest for the inaugural edition of the sportsguysean podcast:
Note, this podcast episode can be found on various hosting services, including Spotify and Breaker. Current and prospective members of the Glens can leave me a voice message on Anchor, and the clip may find its way into a future episode of the sportsguysean podcast. Be sure to follow the sportsguysean podcast on your favourite app or platform.
In addition to taking the helm of the junior ‘B’ Glens, Robillard will serve as head coach of the Eastern Ontario Wild major bantam ‘AAA’ team during the 2020-21 this season.
Viau notes that his new bench boss “has over 12 years of coaching experience” and “his coaching philosophy is pretty simple… [building] around these three basic principles: TEAM FIRST, HARD WORK, and DISCIPLINE.”
The general manager, who’s entering his second year in that capacity with Alexandria’s CCLHL2 hockey club, says, “In order to achieve these principals, Carl strives to build an environment that encourages players to learn and develop on and off the ice, while creating a positive learning atmosphere in both good and hard times. All players need to be given the opportunity to develop their skills in a structured and disciplined learning environment that constantly challenges them while providing encouragement and support. He firmly believes that, when dealing with highly motivated and committed athletes, strong communication skills in both a group and/or an individual setting is the cornerstone of any coach’s responsibility.”
Robillard’s coaching resume includes…
2014-15 regular-season championship with major peewee ‘AAA’
2014-15 playoff championship major peewee ‘AAA’
2014-15 provincial silver medal
2014-15 OEMHL ‘AAA’ Coach of the Year
2015-16 regular-season championship minor bantam ‘AAA’
2015-16 playoff championship minor bantam ‘AAA’
2015-16 Toronto Marlies Holiday Classic ‘AAA’ Championship
2017-18 TELUS Cup Central Region Midget ‘AAA’
2018 OHL drafted players: 10 from the Eastern Ontario Wild and 6 from the Hawkesbury Hawks
The new Glens head coach recently connected with some of his players by way of video conference.
Prior to the announcement of Robillard taking the team’s coaching reins, the Glens announced that last year’s head coach, Marc Rousseau, would not be returning. “We thank him for his time served with us [and wish him] best of luck in future endeavours.”
The Glens also parted ways with their assistant coaches, Marco Pozzebon and Stephane Ouellette.
Subject to Hockey Canada rules regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alexandria CCHL2 Glens have scheduled their 2020 training camp for the Glengarry Sports Palace, beginning August 22.
It may be the off-season, but the business of hockey continues for the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League, albeit a little differently than in a normal year where we aren’t contending with the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time of that announcement on May 11, the GSL stated that it would convene its board and committee members to explore options. Yesterday, the league announced there would be no minor soccer for the 2020 season.
“The Glengarry Soccer League has made the difficult decision to cancel the Outdoor 2020 season for the MINOR division. An email will be sent out to all participants with information regarding refunds. At this time, a decision has not been made for the Senior and Tier 2 divisions.”
GSL announcement, May 24
Matthew Houlzet, who serves at the GSL referee assignor and GSL minor referee-in-chief and works as a soccer official himself, tells me that the league is still hoping that there will be adult soccer in some form, though the schedule will have to be adjusted and/or compressed.
Typically, senior soccer begins in the latter stages of May, concluding in August. At best, this year, play could begin in July, unless Ontario Soccer extends the prohibition on play through that month.
The GSL will be looking at various schedule options that could see play (if it happens at all) extend into the fall, perhaps as late as October.
The only certainty at this point is that there will be no youth matches in the Glengarry Soccer League this summer.
In terms of other area leagues, today the Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club announced the cancellation of its house league and Coyotes (semi-competitive, all-star program) seasons.
“Due in part to the closure of facilities, the uncertainty of distancing orders surrounding recreational programming, the amount of time it would take to properly organize a recreational soccer program, SVSC must in the best interest of all, unfortunately, cancel its House League and Coyotes programs for spring/summer 2020. It should be noted that this decision did not come lightly, but the safety for all is the most important to the club and we appreciate the patience from parents, players, coaches, and officials.
Should the situation change with current conditions of COVID-19, SVSC will be looking at other options to provide possible soccer training activities once it is deemed safe to do so.”
Seaway Valley Soccer Club statement, May 25
At this time, the East Region Soccer League, the top competitive youth loop in this area, continues to explore options for a 2020 season. The GSL via Glengarry Hearts and the SVSC through its Cornwall Blazers teams participate in this league.
The ERSL has not cancelled play for this summer, but has suspended all in-person activities per direction from Ontario Soccer. Updates on modifications to rules and potential play can be followed on their website here.
Originally scheduled to begin last Sunday, the green flag is now set to fly on the 2020 season at the Cornwall Motor Speedway on June 6, though the event will be for drivers and race teams only. No spectators will be permitted.
All of this, of course, is due to ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Speedway and stock car drivers have been impacted, just as other sports and events have.
The June 6 event, billed as “Back To The Track 50” will run on Saturday, June 6, with 50 laps for both Modified and Sportsman classes. Due to current Ontario government guidelines, no spectators will be permitted to attend. Race fans can take in the action online, via the 360nitro.tv platform (purchase required).
Strict rules will be enforced for race teams, which will be limited in number to the driver and four support members. Up to 30 cars will take to the track in each of the two scheduled events.
As the stream of COVID-19-related cancellations has mounted this year, it seemed inevitable that the county’s second-largest summer event (after the Glengarry Highland Games) would be disrupted, and this week the news became official: there will be no Williamstown Fair in 2020, at least not this summer.
The official statement began, “With great regret, the St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society, organizer of Canada’s oldest annual fair, announces the postponement of the traditional 209th edition of the Williamstown Fair (August 7-8-9, 2020) due to the ongoing pandemic.”
The Maxville Fair, scheduled for late June, was cancelled back in April (see my story about this here), and the Glengarry Highland Games, the county’s biggest summer celebration, was nixed last month (story here).
Despite the slight relaxing of government and health regulations recently, conditions remain as such that the holding of large events this summer simply won’t be possible.
“In light of directives from the government and public health officials, we have taken this difficult decision. Our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of our volunteers, community partners, and fairgoers, and we thank the public for their understanding and support.”
Michael Seguin, president of the St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society
The Williamstown Fair is Glengarry County’s annual celebration of agriculture and more, with a number of sports events featured over the course of the three-day gathering. Among these over the years have been competitions of tug of war, Highland Games, beach volleyball, and farmer olympics. The Great Raisin River Footrace has also been associated with the Fair each summer, too, though a few years back its route was adjusted to remain on the south side of the river, using the Sir John Johnson Manor House as its base.
On the 2020 Fair, at this point, organizers are deeming the action a “postponement.” The statement notes that “the Fair Board is committed to celebrating the community and its agricultural heritage and will be looking at ways of holding an alternative fair later this year.”
“Generations of dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to organize this beloved annual event and the current situation is only one of the many challenges the Fair has faced since its inception in 1812.”
St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society
At this time, a final decision on holding the Great Raisin River Footrace has not yet been made. The organizers, Beyond 21, have stated that an official announcement will come in early June.
On April 5, the committee announced, “With the continued uncertainty of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to suspend registration for the 2020 Great Raisin River Footrace.” However, the race was and has not been cancelled, at least not yet. Officially, the run is slated for Sunday, August 9. This year will mark its 42nd edition.
Specific to the province’s golf courses, the document stipulates, “Golf courses and outdoor golf driving ranges are open to the public [as of May 16]. Any clubhouse or recreational amenity (pools, fitness centres, etc.) must remain closed except for washrooms and first aid facilities. Restaurants on the premises may provide food by take out or delivery.”
Alexandria’s Glengarry Golf and Country Club will be one of the local facilities opening Saturday.
In an announcement posted online, the club outlined its operational adjustments in light of ongoing pandemic concerns, with the aim of ensuring “the safety of our customers and our employees. Your support and co-operation are appreciated as we all fight together against COVID-19.”
The GG&CC’s 2020 COVID-19 practices include…
Stringent enforcement of social distancing at all times.
Tee times to be booked online through the website or by calling the pro shop (613-525-2912). No walk-on golfers.
Tee time spacing extended to 12 minutes.
Golfers are encouraged to arrive at the course about 15 minutes prior to the pre-booked tee time.
The driving range and putting greens will be closed.
Debit and credit transactions only. No cash payments.
Products for sale (balls, tees, gloves) will be display-only. Purchasers will make their request to pro shop staff who will bring purchased items to the counter.
Maximum of four people per group.
One person per cart unless in the same household; then a cart can be shared.
All carts will be sanitized prior to the next use.
Walking is encouraged whenever possible.
Rental and personal pushcarts only.
No golf club rentals will be available.
No storage of clubs, carts, or clothing until further notice.
No rakes, ball washers, garbage cans, divot repair boxes, and benches will be on the course.
Flagsticks are not to be removed. Noodle pieces will be placed in pin cups to allow safe retrieval of balls at the pin.
There will be no washrooms available on the course, in the clubhouse, or at the pro shop.
Only the outer clubhouse washrooms will be open, Facilities will be regularly cleaned.
Coffee, canned beverages, and snacks will be available at the pro shop counter.
Golfers will not be permitted to engage in pre- and post-game gatherings.
“I think I can speak for every golfer when I say I have been very eager to get back out on the course. It’s a great way to get out of the house but still be able to maintain safe social distancing for everybody, so I think this is a great move by the government! People will love to get some physical activity this long weekend.”
The golf club adds, “We believe our course is in great shape, and [we] look forward to seeing many of our golfing friends again over the upcoming days.”
Summerheights Golf Links will also open to golfers on Saturday. Staff began taking tee times today online and by phone with demand so great at one point that the computer system crashed.
Many of the same rules will be enforced at Summerheights as well. Here are their informational posters. (Click for full-size versions.)
At the Heritage Golf Club in Lancaster, physical distancing rules and other safety measures will also be in place. The facility’s updated play policy can be viewed here. Tee times must be pre-booked by calling the club at 613-347-3738.
Alexandria’s Rylee Leger has been recognized with an athletics award from Algonquin College in Ottawa, named most valuable player of the women’s volleyball team
Graduating this spring from the Bachelor for Early Learning and Community Development Program, Leger was captain of the Thunder volleyball team for the 2019-20 season. She led the East Division in scoring and was second overall in the league.
The 6 ft. 2 in. athlete who plays the right side of the court is a graduate of Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School where she excelled in numerous sports, including soccer. In her graduating year (2016), Leger captured school athletics awards for volleyball and basketball. She was also recognized as the Senior Female Athlete of the Year.
She was also honoured that summer by the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame as one of 15 athletes invited to be celebrated at the annual induction dinner and ceremony.
On her time at Algonquin College, Leger says the MVP award was “a really great way to finish my college volleyball career.”
“It’s pretty amazing and quite an honour to have won Most Valuable Player, [be] East Scoring champ, [be named a] 1st team all-star, and to finish second overall in points for all of the OCAA in my last year”
Rylee Leger on her final season of collegiate volleyball
Her now-former head coach, Everton Senior, noted, “Not many in the OCAA can match the dominance of Rylee. We will have a major hole to fill with her departure.”
The Glengarrian adds, “I’m gonna miss it a lot that’s for sure, but it’s time for a new chapter.”
The Thunder had a 15-3 record over the course of the 2019-20 campaign, finishing second in the OCAA East Division. In the playoff opener, the Thunder prevailed over the Redeemer Royals, from Hamilton, 3 sets to 1 (25-11, 25-23, 21-25, 28-26) to earn a berth at the championship tournament, in North Bay.
There, the Algonquin ladies were felled in their opener, losing in straight sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-11) to St. Clair College, ending the season for the Thunder. St. Clair ended up taking bronze at the tournament, while Fanshawe claimed gold over Humber in the title match.
The 2020 inductees to the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame have been revealed, but along with the announcement came news that this year’s annual gathering to celebrate the new inductees has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board of the hall of fame extends congratulations to the 2020 inductees:
Corey Van Loon (Martintown, sports organizer, canoeist, Raisin River Canoe Race)
Typically, members of the hall, along with inductees, family members, supporters, past inductees, and honoured graduating high school athletes gather for a celebration each August. The location rotates amongst the county’s three arena, with festivities held on the arena floor. Last year, the event was held in Williamstown, at the Char-Lan Rec. Centre, with the 2020 edition (the 41st annual) scheduled for Maxville’s arena.
However, “due to COVID-19, The Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame’s 2020 Induction Night has been postponed to Wednesday, August 18, 2021, in Maxville. Mark your calendars!”
New Website Address and Hall Visits for 2020
The Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame website address has changed slightly, with the website now available at glengarrysports.ca (formerly .com).
The website is chock full of stories on past inductees, since the facility, located in Maxville, was established in 1979.
Traditionally, the hall building opens after the long weekend in May, welcoming visitors through to Labour Day. The board of the hall of fame expects they will have a summer student hosting guests once again this year.
The hall building is located at 35 Fair Street, adjacent to the arena in Maxville.
Stay tuned for an official announcement on this year’s opening.