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Jordan Ercit Photo

Jordan Ercit Photo

Julian Greer of the Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Raiders nudges past Jameson Merkus of the Bluevale Knights on Tuesday, the opening day of the WCSSAA senior boys basketball season and the same day the Waterloo Region District School Board announced its is cancelling extra-curricular activities from Dec. 10 to 31.

WCSSAA winter season in doubt

By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff

The future looked bright for the Huron Heights Huskies. Then they went out and beat one of the favourites for the WCSSAA senior boys basketball title.

But celebrations were muted when the Huskies edged the Waterloo Collegiate Vikings 72-70 on Tuesday. Because once the week is over, the Huskies have no clue when they will play next.

The Waterloo Region District School Board announced Tuesday all extra- and co-curricular activities, including WCSSAA league games and practices, will stop from Dec. 10 to 31 due to an Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation directive asking its members to refrain from volunteer duties.

The move is part of the union’s continuing protest of Bill 115, which among other actions would impose a two-year contract and wage freeze on teachers, while also giving the government the power to end a strike without debating the issue in provincial legislature.

For the Huskies, whose season-opening win came hours after the WRDSB announcement, it put an immediate damper on what looked to be an exciting season.

It also means players looking to impress college and university scouts  have less time to do so, while club players like Miller will have to find their own court time to stay in shape ahead of the spring season.

“There’s a lot of frustration and disappointment that they [the parties involved] can’t come to a conclusion,” Huskies point guard Juwan Miller said. “A lot of guys look forward to the season and work hard in the classroom to be able to play.”

“Now that they can’t. It will be deflating for sure.”

Mark Schinkel, the WRDSB’s executive superintendant for human resource services, said the decision was made Tuesday because it was the board’s understanding negotiations had been exhausted and a local agreement was not achievable prior to Dec. 31.

“If circumstances change, certainly we would adapt,” Schinkel said, noting they could repeal the decision if an agreement was possible. “But we felt the need to get fair forewarning to our community.”

For now, all that is for certain is that up until this week only a handful of boys basketball, girls volleyball, hockey, curling, swimming and wrestling meets, matches and games can be completed.

After that, it’s difficult to predict what will happen, Schinkel added. There is no decision in place on what a shortened WCSSAA season will look like or whether games will be made up after Dec. 31.

“That’s something we would have to clarify in the new year,” he said.

The decision could have a ripple effect on local religious schools, even though Catholic school teachers reached a two-year deal with the province earlier this year.

Although the District 8 Athletic Association runs its own swimming meets and basketball and volleyball leagues, member schools are invited guests in WCSSAA hockey, alpine skiing and curling.

District 8 president Chris Woodcroft said the association was awaiting formal information from their WCSSAA counterparts as of Tuesday afternoon and that officials plan to meet Friday to discuss how to move forward if WCSSAA games are scrapped next week.

“As of right now, we’re not in position to speculate what our next course of action will be, but we’re fortunate in basketball, volleyball and swimming that we run our own District 8 leagues,” said Woodcroft, who coaches girls hockey at Monsignor Doyle Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge.

“So there will be no disruption in those leagues for sure.”

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