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Delta athletes prepare for gymnastics provincials

Twenty athletes from eight schools heading to Prince George
Delta athletes from the Delta Gymnastics Society are off to the high school provincial championships this weekend in Prince George. Katie Lawrence-Balloch Photo

The high school gymnastics season is coming to a close in a big way for athletes from Delta.

Delta will be well-represented at the high school provincial championships set for Feb. 25 to 27 in Prince George.

In all, 20 athletes from eight schools (Delta Secondary, South Delta Secondary, Southpointe Academy, Sands Secondary, Seaquam Secondary, Burnsview Secondary, North Delta Secondary and Fraser Academy in Vancouver) will attend – all under the banner of the Delta Gymnastics Society (DGS).

Gymnastics is no longer sanctioned by BC School Sports (BCSS), but that hasn’t stopped DGS from finding new ways to keep the program alive.

When BCSS voted in May 2023 to remove gymnastics as a sanctioned school sport, due to what they cited as “low enrolment” it came as huge shock to the 53 students enrolled in the program at DGS.

“There was no pre-warning about it,” said gymnastics program manager Jenn Watts. “Usually when things like that happen, there’s a discussion, and that didn’t happen at all. So next it was a question of, can athletes still represent their schools?”

The answer is yes, on the condition that their school and/or school district is supportive of the program, which has not been the case for every student.

Watts said about one-fifth of the gymnasts in Delta’s program aren’t able to compete in events, including the provincials, because their school will not sign off.

“We are pretty lucky because we have a lot of kids who attend school within the Delta District,” said Watts. “They totally support gymnastics as a sport and understand the importance of continuing to allow the athletes to compete and represent their high school.

“But we have a handful that go to schools in cities that don’t support. When all their peers who they train with can go to provincials and compete under the high school umbrella, and they’re not, it’s really unfortunate.”

Watts said despite the obstacles, it was important to keep the high school program going.

“We offer many programs at DGS, but the high school program just pulls together that age of kids that they can maintain their skills and compete if they want to, or not. For training, you can train once a week, you can train three times a week,” said Watts.