By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff
The inevitable has happened. Waterloo Country secondary school athletics is on official timeout for the winter season.
The public board-run WCSSAA league announced last Friday winter sporting schedules will not be drawn up “at this time” due to insufficient voluntary participation by coaches at member schools, president Darcy Mintz said in a media release.
Shortly after that was announced, the District 8 Athletic Association said it was making plans for member schools, specifically those with teams entered as guests in WCSSAA leagues, to continue playing.
Mintz said last week WCSSAA schools were being polled about their participation in extracurricular sports with the season possibly starting last Monday. Some public board teams had even started practising in anticipation.
But that will not happen, at least for now, meaning an entire WCSSAA season could be wiped off the calendar — likely the first time in the association’s history.
“WCSSAA will not be proceeding with Winter Sports schedules at this time,” Mintz said in a sentence-long release.
The decision came after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation warned extracurricular activities would not resume in 2013 after the provincial government imposed two-year contracts on the union’s membership through Bill 115.
There were signs this could happen in December. When OSSTF members originally withdrew from extracurricular activities, a union communication from president Ken Coran, obtained by the Post, said, “if the Minister through Bill 115 orders that the contractual or education act requirements be fulfilled (ie legal strike is ended), voluntary or extracurricular activities WILL NOT resume.”
As a result, the District 8 Athletic Association is in the process of scheduling its own hockey games and planning for the potential of hosting its own alpine skiing, curling and wrestling meets. District 8 already runs basketball, volleyball and swimming championships under its own banner.
“While District 8 continues to appreciate the opportunity to be included as a guest in a variety of WCSSAA sports leagues, we had hoped for a resolution which would have our student-athletes back on the playing surface,” the release said. “District 8 will evaluate each activity on a sport-by-sport basis and deliver a program which will properly identify a representative(s) for potential future competition at Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association competitions. Details will be announced as each program is put into place.”
Michael Grobe, athletic co-ordinator for Waterloo Catholic District School Board, said a boys’ hockey league including St. David, Resurrection, St. Mary’s, St. Benedict and Monsignor Doyle was ready to go Tuesday with St. David hosting Monsignor Doyle at RIM Park in Waterloo and Resurrection edging St. Mary’s 5-4 at Activa Sportsplex in Kitchener.
On Thursday, St. David and Resurrection face each other at 3 p.m. at RIM Park, while St. Benedict hosts Monsignor Doyle at 2 p.m. at Hespeler Memorial Arena.
A girls’ hockey league including St. David, Resurrection and St. Mary’s is expected to start after the exam break. Grobe couldn’t comment on the status of skiing, wrestling or curling; however, he said most wrestling meets have already been concluded.
As for CWOSSA, the regional athletic association is in the process of polling its member districts to see who is interested in competing for championships or OFSAA qualifiers.
Recent changes have allowed the association to advance teams to OFSAA in the event of a labour dispute. But 75 per cent of districts must be represented for a CWOSSA championship to take place, although OFSAA qualifiers can be held anyway if that number is not reached.
“We did want to allow teams to move on, but we didn’t think it was fair to run CWOSSA championships with so many schools not taking part,” CWOSSA executive director Barry Mutrie said, noting only districts 4, 8 and 10 have fully functioning leagues.
The remaining CWOSSA executive — those not taking part in union action — are expected to meet next Wednesday to finalize the CWOSSA championship and OFSAA qualifier schedule.
The good news is OFSAA has committed to hosting championships and is “full steam ahead,” Mutrie said.
As well, the two upcoming OFSAA championships hosted by the CWOSSA region — swimming and wrestling — should be able to go ahead with the current conveners in place.
Guelph’s John F. Ross Collegiate and Vocational Institute, which is convening both events, is part of District 10.