Tag Archives: COVID-19

Sounds of silence: plug pulled on all GSL outdoor soccer for 2020

The latest announcement from the Glengarry Soccer League officially ended any prospect of a summer season of the beautiful game in the county, as the GSL has pulled the plug on play in all adult divisions.

The GSL had previously cancelled the minor (youth) season for summer 2020, but there was hope of some sort of adult season, perhaps later in the summer or early fall.

That prospect was ended with this June 22 announcement: “Unfortunately, there will be no GSL soccer this outdoor season. The GSL has made the difficult decision to cancel ALL divisions. This includes Senior, Tier 2, and Hearts (in addition to the previously cancelled minor division).”

The addition of the Hearts to the cancellation list refers to the competitive Glengarry Hearts minor teams that the county fields each year to compete in the East Region Soccer League. The ERSL has not cancelled its season, which, in a normal year, would have begun in mid-May and run through August, occasionally into September.

A GSL representative told me that the county league was waiting on word from the ERSL and/or the EODSA (the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association, which is the region’s governing body for the sport), but none came, so the GSL acted, officially silencing soccer balls in Glengarry.

Meanwhile, Ontario Soccer and the EODSA has announced that clubs can begin phase 1 of the Return to Play plan.

Ontario Soccer notice
Ontario Soccer graphic

According to Ontario Soccer plan, phase 1 allows for a return to modified training. Restrictions include no contact and no league, exhibition, festival, or tournament matches.

Ontario Soccer notes that the organization “will determine timelines for each Phase in alignment with the Province of Ontario provincial health authorities involving government orders, restrictions, and guidelines.”

The ERSL has been working on a contingency plan to salvage a 2020 season, which now will not include any Glengarry Hearts teams. According to the current outline, “If we are not in Phase 3 of Ontario Soccer’s Return to Play Guidelines on or before July 31, 2020, the ERSL will cancel the 2020 outdoor season.”

The hope is that a 9-week season could start August 2, providing 10 to 12 games per team, and running through early October. This is what the ERSL bills as “our most extensive delay,” one of a number of scenarios within their contingency plan. Under this situation, divisions would be assigned two game days per week, Cup and Shield events would be cancelled, and there would be no two-week break in the schedule.

The Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club also cancelled its 2020 outdoor season for house teams and the Coyotes (tournament play).

The Seaway Valley Blazers ERSL teams, which play out of Cornwall, are still registered to play in the region’s competitive league, should its season proceed at some point. Currently, the club is set to field boys teams at the U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15 (two squads), U16, U17, and U18 levels. On the girls side, expected teams are U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U16, and U18 (two squads).

Training for Match Officials

Registration for online training of match officials continues through to July 3. Clinics are expected to be run in August, assuming sufficient numbers sign up.

The GSL’s minor referee-in-chief, Matthew Houlzet, notes, “All learning is completed online and will certify you to referee and line games for U12 and older.”

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Area golf courses set to tee-off season this weekend

In time for the May long weekend, the Ontario government has relaxed some COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, allowing golf courses to partially open, effective May 16.

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The Ford government announcement of so-called stage one openings can be read in its entirety here.

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.”

Ben Lowe

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.)

Bookings and further information: 613-938-8009 or summerheightsgolf.com

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.

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Alexandria Glens: reflecting on last season, looking forward to new campaign

With all that has been going on in the world of late, it seems as though the season for the Alexandria Glens concluded a lifetime ago. Officially, the team’s 2019-20 CCHL2 campaign ended on February 25, with a 5-1 victory on home ice over the Athens Aeros.

It was one of few bright spots on the season that saw the Glens win just 9 of 44 games. The squad lost 31 in regulation time and a further 4 in either overtime or a shootout.

Following the team’s final contest of the winter, I interviewed alternate captain Nico Pozzebon and first-year general manager Derick Viau.

As Viau notes, it was right back to business looking towards next season. Little did he and the players know at the time what was in store for them and us in the weeks that followed.

In mid-March, we learned of the passing of Mike (Michel) Depratto. He was key in saving the Glens a few years back, leading a group of individuals who established the club as a community not-for-profit entity.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have just learned of the passing of Mike Depratto. He was involved in keeping the Glens in the community and he was HEO’s current 1st VP. He will be truly missed in the Community of Alexandria and Hockey.”

Alexandria Glens statement, March 14

A Hockey Eastern Ontario note, attributed to minor president Gary Hopkins, probably summed it up best: Depratto’s “contributions to hockey in Eastern Ontario cannot be overstated, but more importantly he has been a friend and a mentor to many of us on a personal level. We will miss him.”

The unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic altered plans for the Glens during the off-season as well, with the team having to cancel its annual team banquet and awards ceremony. Instead, award-winners were announced remotely.

  • Most Improved Player: #17 Elijah Boisvert
  • Glens Manager’s Trophy for Top Scorer: #11 Nico Pozzebon
  • Glens Sportsmanship & Ability Award: #8 Zachary power and #16 Ryan Leonard
  • Glens Leadership Trophy: #11 Nico Pozzebon
  • Glens Best Defenceman: #21 Nicolas Ouellette and #12 Zachary Bigras
  • Ernest Bellefeuille Award: #28 Alexim Veilleux
  • President’s Trophy for MVP: #11 Nico Pozzebon

From the general manager’s perspective, his first foray into leading a junior ‘B’ hockey club was a whirlwind, with Viau telling me that he has nothing but pride for all the players who contributed to the Glens over the course of he 2019-20 season.

Looking Towards the 2020-21 Campaign

General manager Viau’s to-do list is a lengthy one. Initially, a spring skate for players and potential Glens was planned, but that had to be nixed due to the hockey shutdown.

Regardless, planning for the new season had to continue. Online recruitment for the team’s August (hopefully) camp has been set up on the Glens website and can be accessed here. The team invites hockey players ages 16 through 20 years old to sign up or contact the general manager (derick@alexandriaglens.com or at 613-360-0077) for more information. Payment of camp fees has been waived until further notice.

In terms of staff behind the bench, the Glens are looking for an equipment manager / trainer. Anyone interested should contact Viau.

Last year’s coaches – Marc Rousseau, Stephan Ouellette, and Marco Pozzebon – were slated to return for a second kick at the can, but the team has since parted ways with the trio. (See the updated story here.)

As things stand now, the Glens camp is scheduled to begin in late August, followed by the CCHL2 pre-season and regular season in September.

The hockey shutdown mandated by Hockey Canada in March curtailed the league’s 2019-20 playoffs in the second round, meaning there was no league champion declared.

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AHL season, playoffs officially cancelled

As has been expected for several weeks, today’s announcement made it official: the 2019-20 American Hockey League season is over, and there will be no playoffs this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the league shutdown back in March, and as the weeks wore on, various leagues across North America and around the world made the decision to forego any further play this season. The American Hockey League was, until today, one of just two leagues officially with their season on pause. The other is the National Hockey League featuring the continent’s top professional teams.

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Statement from the AHL

In terms of local impact, this affects Remi Elie, who calls Green Valley home. The 25-year-old returned to the region from Rochester, N.Y., a few days following the initial announcement of a season pause.

He’s a member of the Americans, which followed suit today with this statement.

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Rochester Americans notice to fans and supporters

Read more about Elie’s season in my earlier story here.

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Glengarry Highland Games cancelled for 2020

With scheduled summer 2020 Highland Games across the country being cancelled due to COVID-19, it came as little surprise that the plug was pulled on the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, as well.

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On April 22, the official word came down from Games president Eric Metcalfe, and the Glengarry Highland Games Organizing Committee: “What a wonderful world it would be if we could all be together and celebrate the 2020 Glengarry Highland Games on July 31st and August 1st. However, in light of the current public health crisis and with the deepest concern for all those who might be affected, we will not be presenting the 73rd edition of the Games this summer.”

First held in 1948, the Games have taken place in Maxville each year since, regardless of “sweltering heat and pouring rain and other difficult conditions.” The committee notes that the “unprecedented cancellation reflects the gravity of the world’s situation right now.”

“As upsetting as cancelling this year’s Glengarry Highland Games is…it is very much the right thing to do. I also want to assure you that all the directors and committees will be working hard to produce a spectacular 2021 Games. We look forward to welcoming you back on July 30 and 31, 2021. Please keep checking out our website for updates.”

Eric Metcalfe, Games president

There is no doubt that the thousands of attendees, participants, and competitors who would otherwise be in Maxville this summer are as disappointed as those who had to make the difficult call to cancel.

Ron Graham, who competes in the masters division of the Scottish heavyweights, said he is “very disappointed” about the cancellation of the Maxville Games, adding, “they had to … [and I] understand why they did.”

The Apple Hil resident describes the Glengarry Highland Games as one of the biggest, with “people coming from Scotland, the United States, and all over Canada.” He notes that Montreal’s games, which traditionally follow the event in Maxville, has previously been cancelled too.

“All the athletes probably put on 20 – 30 lb from staying at home isolating.”

Ron Graham

One of the competitors in the open professional class is Jason Baines, who hails from Dalkeith. He told me, “Every single games has been cancelled, including my opener in South Carolina scheduled for April 4.” The athletes also lost the World Masters Championships, slated to be held in Ireland.

“All in all, it is disappointing seeing as I had been preparing for Worlds since late December,” he added. “The flipside is we will have an entire season to get healthy, improve technique, and cut more cabers.”

Another large Highland games festival usually held each summer in Ontario is the Fergus Scottish Festival, which would have celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Scheduled for August 7-9, its cancellation was also announced this month.

As a result of the cancellation of various games, the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation also nixed the Canadian Amateur Championships, which were slated to be part of the Campbell River Salmonfest Logger Sports Competitions and Highland Gathering, and the Canadian Open Championships, scheduled for the Montreal games.

As Baines puts it, “Right now we are crossing fingers that we can throw in September, in Calgary or Quebec City,” where Highland Games competitions are still on the schedule.

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Is the cancellation of the 2019-20 AHL season inevitable?

On April 27, TSN reported a story from the Associated Press indicating that the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 American Hockey League season is likely.

Play was stopped On March 12, when the professional hockey association that serves as a feeder system to the NHL announced, “With the health and safety of our players, officials, staff, and fans of primary importance, the American Hockey League has announced the suspension of play until further notice, effective immediately, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHL will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the 2019-20 season at the appropriate time.”

Initially, players were sent to their home team cities, if they weren’t already there. This included Green Valley’s Remi Elie, who plays for the Rochester Americans, farm club of the NHL Buffalo Sabres.

By March 16, the league’s advice to teams had changed, as players were encouraged to leave their teams, returning to their hometown. Clubs were asked to “facilitate the return of AHL players to their primary residences.”

The expectation at the time was that play would resume at some point, but no sooner than May.

At the stoppage, the Americans sat in second place of the North Division, 75 points on 62 games, with 14 regular-season games remaining.

The 25-year-old Elie recorded 13 points and 10 penalty minutes in 34 matches this season with the Rochester team.

According to the recent news story, it’s “quite likely the American Hockey League will cancel the remainder of its season because of the new coronavirus pandemic, though officially the AHL has stated no announcement is imminent. It is understood that the league has already moved on to planning for the 2020-21 campaign.

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Following the March stoppage of sports across North America, one league after the other announced cancellations of remaining action. At this point, the only leagues currently on pause are the AHL and NHL.

One summer league, the province’s junior ‘C’ lacrosse loop, has already pulled the plug on its 2020 campaign without having played a game.

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Summerheights Golf Links eyes possible opening in near future

As announced on its Facebook page, Summerheights Golf Links is ready for a new season, as soon as the go-ahead comes down from the province and local health officials.

As with all golf courses (and sports facilities), closure is currently mandated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 20, the club noted staff continue to prepare the course.

“Summerheights is committed to a safe golf environment. Through this difficult and unprecedented time, that commitment includes the health and well-being of golfers as well as our team. Our thoughts are with those personally affected by the virus including their families, our most vulnerable citizens, and the incredible healthcare workers who are facing the pandemic on the front lines. They are true heroes.

We continue to maintain the course and are waiting on the go-ahead from government officials for an opening. We are getting new procedures in place to be prepared to keep everyone safe. There will be many changes but you will still be able to golf and have fun.

Please continue to stay home, stop the spread, and dream of golf. We miss you and look forward to seeing everyone soon.”

Summerheights statement on Facebook

Recently, some golfers were circulating an online petition to get courses opened. However, it appears that the provincial government and health officials are taking a cautious approach, with the only announcement of new guidelines for businesses currently open and those soon to be allowed to re-open (though we don’t know which they will be).

For now, the advice to all of us remains the same: stay home as much as possible, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, and practise physical distancing when out in the community by staying at least 2 metres from others.

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Youth football leagues making contingency plans for 2020 schedules

Physical distancing requirements to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic have put a crimp in all sports schedules this year, including youth football.

The latest league to explore contingencies is NCAFA, which offers a fall competitive program across Eastern Ontario, including teams from the Cornwall Wildcats. Typically, game play begins in August, running through late October.

Representatives from NCAFA recently convened a sub-committee videoconference meeting “on preparing and planning our return to play once we get the go-ahead from our governing bodies and from the municipalities we play in.”

The goal of the group is to be as prepared as possible, if and when football is again permitted.

“We figure that teams would need a minimum of three weeks of practices to properly teach safe contact and get some plays together.”

Possible schedules under consideration are shown in this chart.

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Potential schedules for fall tackle youth football, proposed by NCAFA.

The start date affects the length of the season, as the league is restricted by late-fall weather. The group is also exploring what play might look like if physical distancing requirements continue into September. The likely scenario then would be some sort of tournament, where teams would each get three games.

“Football will be back. And when it does, NCAFA will be ready for it. It’s important that our kids get to be kids again.”

NCAFA sub-committee announcement

The Cornwall Wildcats, which also field spring youth teams that compete in a local friendly league with the Glengarry Gaels, and a squad in the OFC (provincial varsity league), have been trying various methods to stay connected with players, including the use of online workouts and videos.

As the days and weeks pass, the likelihood of seeing spring football is dimming. Usually, the OFC Wildcats would be working out en masse outdoors by this time of year, with game play to begin in mid to late May.

As for the spring youth recreational league, their schedule is traditionally May and June.

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Junior C lacrosse season scrapped due to COVID-19 concerns

The Ontario Junior ‘C’ Lacrosse League has announced that there will be no 2020 season, meaning the region’s team, the Cornwall Celtics, won’t see any action this year.

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In the April 17 statement, the OJCLL wrote, the league “is saddened to announce the cancellation of the 2020 junior ‘C’ lacrosse season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The OJCLL held an online meeting featuring representatives from the league’s 17 teams, with the focus on the “safety of players, staff, officials, and fans, as well as arena availability.”

League commissioner Reg Holinshead noted, “The physical nature of lacrosse, along with the reality of locker rooms, showers, buses, and even spectator seating, made it impossible for us to envision a way that we could responsibly begin play anytime soon. Arena availability was also a concern, with two clubs unable to take the floor until at least August 1, and many others without homes until July at the earliest. This was a really tough decision for our league because, like our players and fans, we would love to be in arenas thinking about goals, saves, and hits – not sick relatives, social distancing, and economic uncertainty. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t realistic, and we needed to put the health of our players, staff, officials, and fans first.”

Players aged 17-21 participate in the junior ‘C’ lacrosse league which was slated to open its 13th season April 24 in Oakville. The OJCLL features 17 teams from Ontario and Quebec, with newcomers Orangeville and Six Nations slated to begin play this year.

“The lacrosse community has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have players who have lost family members to this awful disease, fans who are out of work, and sponsors that have closed their doors. It’s a terrible situation, and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected. On behalf of all 17 of our teams, I want to wish everyone involved with the league good health and safety as we navigate through these troubling times,” Holinshead added.

The OJCLL, which is “the stepping stone for Canada’s game,” plans to continue working “closely with the Ontario and Canadian Lacrosse Associations regarding the 2021 season and the impact of this year’s cancellation on players.”

Locally, Celtics general manager Vicky Tait broke the news to her players and team supporters: “It is with great regret that I share this news. I’m sure our Celtic community will be deeply saddened but also understand the importance and necessity of our league decision.”

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Glengarry Minor Baseball aiming to salvage 2020 youth season

Glengarry Minor Baseball, which operates a youth league based in Alexandria (on the diamonds at the Glengarry Sports Palace), is hoping to run a spring 2020 season, even one that may be abbreviated.

In a recent announcement, the league’s volunteer board stated that registration remains open for girls and boys with birth years 2005 through 2016.

To assist families at this challenging time, GMB has proposed the following:

  1. Defer payments (to allow parents to register their children and not worry about financial obligations right now).
  2. Registration costs have been lowered to reflect the shorter season expected (current cost reductions are between 20%-25%).
  3. A promise that GMB will not add a second game day during the week. The league is striving to do everything (including possible double-headers) to give kids the best possible season without cutting into valuable family time.

In a “normal” year, Sunday afternoon games would be played over a 12-week season, culminating in early August.

For something fun in the meantime, parents of young baseball stars might enjoy the activities on this post.

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