Sports WECSSAA sports remains in limbo while awaiting decisions at multiple levels

Sports WECSSAA sports remains in limbo while awaiting decisions at multiple levels


Author of the article:

Jim Parker  •  Windsor Star

sports the Belle River Nobles, who are scheduled to host OFSAA boy's AA/A hockey in March, are awaiting to see if the tournament will be played.
the Belle River Nobles, who are scheduled to host OFSAA boy’s AA/A hockey in March, are awaiting to see if the tournament will be played. Photo by Nick Brancaccio /Windsor Star

Area high school sports remain in a holding pattern.

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Premier Doug Ford hinted Tuesday of some positive news coming later this week in regards to provincial COVID-19 restrictions.

However, it’s not just provincial hurdles standing in the way of WECSSAA sports returning to play and just what that return might look like.

“It’s pure speculation on my part,” WECSSAA secretary/treasurer Joe Amicarelli said.

Ontario temporarily moved to a modified Step Two for at least 21 days on Jan. 5, which would take it to Jan. 26.

However, even if those restrictions are lifted at that point, it is also the date exams begin for area high school students.

“Everything shuts down on the 26th, which is our exams,” Amicarelli said . “Our exam period is done Feb. 2nd, but we won’t start up, if we’re back, until (Feb.) 7th.”

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But what the provincial government decides to do is not the only factor that will impact how WECSSAA sports moves forward.

After more than 20 months of being sidelined by the pandemic, WECSSAA sports returned on Nov. 20th with a modified fall schedule for some sports.

“The atmosphere, even with no crowds, to see the smiles (on the faces of athletes) was awesome and very therapeutic,” Amicarelli said.

A few games had to be rescheduled, but the hope was to finish those games up and play an abbreviated championship week when school resumed after the Christmas Break. However, the new restrictions, which moved schools back to online learning, has put that plan in limbo.

Now, aside from the provincial government plans, the attention also turns to OFSAA, which is the provincial governing body for high school sports.

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At this point, OFSAA is still hoping to hold winter sports championships, which locally could put any plans to finish the fall sports schedule in jeopardy.

“It comes down to OFSAA and if we have winter sports,” Amicarelli said . “If we do (see OFSAA go ahead with winter sports), we have to immediately start boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball.

“If there’s no (winter) OFSAA, we can maybe spend two-or-three weeks finishing (fall sports) and then, by mid-February, start basketball and volleyball. We can then push soccer to the middle of April, get track and field, cross country and maybe football and some other sports shortened seasons to try to get everyone.”

OFSAA already announced last month that it will not hold swimming or wrestling championships, but some schools are waiting to hear about other sports. Belle River is set to host the OFSAA boys’ A/AA championship March 23-26.

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“OFSAA sent out a memo and we found out at the Christmas Break there was enough interest to host OFSAA events barring nothing else going on,” Belle River hockey coach

Dave Bracken said. “Then, Omicron hit and things shut down. We’re waiting for OFSAA to see if there’s still interest to send teams our way.”

With a team loaded with Grade 10 players in 2020, Belle River had already qualified for OFSAA when the event was cancelled at the start of the pandemic. Last year, Belle River was to host OFSAA, but backed out so St. Catharines, which was to host in 2020, had another chance to host, but again the event was called off. Now, with the bulk of that 2020 roster in Grade 12, Belle River is set to try and stage this year’s event.

The host committee has already come up with a plan to host the scheduled 16-team event at three rinks at the Atlas Tube Centre. Normally, the event would require four rinks.

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“We’ve already come up with a schedule that works and with limited contact to teams and with time between games to run on three rinks,” Bracken said.

While Amicarelli is anxious to see which direction OFSAA will go, Bracken feels the longer it takes to make a decision, the better the chance of going forward with provincial championships.

“Now that we’re back in school, I think it’s a positive thing,” Bracken said. “My gut feeling is, by the time we were to host, everything would be fine, unless something unforeseen happens, if the numbers keep going down.

“We’re ready at the drop of a dime and all of our ducks in a row. Hopefully, OFSAA will approve.”


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