With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to loom over us, the Ontario government recently announced its plan for students to return to schools in September, with a brief mention of sports and recreation activities.
However, specifically on schools, OFSAA, the province’s governing body for high school athletics, has announced there will be no Ontario championships this fall. Traditionally, the slate would include golf, cross-country running, football, girls basketball, and boys volleyball.
Regarding EOSSAA, the regional body for high school sports, no official announcement has been made, though I have been told that they will “follow OFSAA’s direction.”
Locally, the SDGAA and PRSSAA have not made official statements either. Marc Poirier, head of athletics at Holy Trinity (which competes in the SD&G league) and Éric Crête, a coach at Le Relais (Prescott-Russell league), tell me they have not heard of any local planning.
I’m told that it’s possible individual boards may allow some sort of sports/recreation, in line with government direction, which suggests activities can only take place within a school (i.e. n inter-school competition), whilst maintaining physically distancing and enhanced cleaning. Whether boards and schools decide to take on the risk remains to be seen.
Across the country, university sports have been cancelled in three of four leagues (Only Quebec still has plans for competition). In Ontario, college sports this fall have also been cancelled.
All high school Ontario-wide championships scheduled for this spring under the auspices of OFSAA have been cancelled, as the organization announced today.
Our region typically has athletes competing at the provincial track and field championships, and often we have a team or two battling in soccer as well, but this year that won’t happen.
The Glengarry Gaels boys soccer team won OFSAA gold in 2019, triumphing at the tournament held in Ancaster, while the girls from Le Relais captured silver, also in Ancaster.
Gaels boys team head coach Glen Campbell told me in February that he had 13 team members back this year from last season’s provincial championship squad. The boys had been conducting informal sessions during lunch breaks prior to the March Break and ensuing shutdown of schools due to COVID-19.
With the cancellation of the provincial competitions this year, Glengarry will have to wait another season to try to defend its title.
In the March 31 announcement from the OFSAA president, Nick Rowe stated, “As we continue to cope in these challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with great disappointment that we announce Tuesday the cancellation of the remaining 2020 spring OFSAA championships and festivals.
“On behalf of the OFSAA Executive Council and all of our staff, we are thankful for the commitment and passion of all student-athletes, coaches, convenors, and volunteer host organizing committees to this point in the school year. Volunteers are the driving force in the planning efforts and execution of these events. A sincere thank you to each and every one of the volunteers across the province.
“As we endure this uncertain coronavirus health crisis, OFSAA will continue to follow the direction of public health experts and government agencies.
“We eagerly look forward to when we can safely get back to the classroom and when sport returns to our school communities.
“Stay safe and healthy.”
This year’s boys ‘A’ soccer tournament was scheduled to be held in London, while the girls event was slated for Perth. Track and field was booked for Toronto.
At this stage, there is no confirmation on when or if high school sports will resume locally.
What a final day it was for county high school soccer teams at OFSAA, in the Hamilton area, where, today, the GDHS senior boys captured gold, while Le Relais senior girls scored silver. (Cornwall’s la Citadelle beat les Rapides for the second time, also edging them in the EOSSAA final last week.)
Covering soccer and high school sports in general for The Glengarry News has always been one of the highlights of my work as a sports journalist.
As I write this post, I realize that I made an error in a story I ran in the newspaper’s June 5 edition. To correct the record, Le Relais claimed the PRSSAA championship last fall, while la Citadelle won the SDGAA title this spring. The teams are school board rivals, though they play in different athletic associations.
Two high school soccer teams from Glengarry county are currently in the Hamilton area, competing at OFSAA. (I have background stories in the June 5 issue of The Glengarry News.)
The boys from GDHS have joined the girls from le Relais at the ‘A’ tournament, vying for provincial glory. Today saw the squads get off to a solid start, with the Gaels winning both of their games, while les Rapides played to split results. As part of the experience, the players attended the OFSAA banquet (see photo below, courtesy of Marc Seguin).