It’s a start.
Limited extracurricular sports activities are underway at Delta high schools.
This would typically be a busy stretch at South Delta Secondary with football, volleyball, soccer and field hockey teams gearing up for district and provincial playoffs. Instead, it’s only cohort volleyball training and perhaps some football practices too.
Overseeing the entire process is SDSS co-athletic director Brent Sweeney who also happens to be vice-president of BC School Sports.
“Most schools in Delta are operating under a 30 to 60 cohort. At least at the beginning, we will be under that restrictive approach and hopefully we can move to the idea of expanding a little more,” he said.
“From the senior management’s perspective, the district was supportive of some sports starting. They just needed to measure or nail down what exactly it was going to look like in schools. We put forward a proposal and the principals had some suggestions from their perspective on health and safety. It took a little going back and forth where we could all agree and live with.”
B.C. School Sports recently announced the fall season will be expanded right up until the winter break in December. It allows additional time for training but very likely nothing more with daily provincial COVID-19 numbers reaching record totals. Sweeney is hoping there will be cohort play after the basketball season is launched in January but he can only see it being among Delta schools.
“Any games going ahead in the fall season would be a real surprise to me,” he continued. “I think when basketball starts the pressure will really mount to play games so long as the case numbers aren’t crazy then. (The South Fraser Zone) numbers are not the greatest so I think mostly likely it will be within Delta only. Hopefully we can open up more things in the spring.”
Some fall sports will remain dormant, including boys soccer and field hockey that currently have competitive and training opportunities at the community club level with most students participating. BC School Sports also held a virtual cross-country running event last week.
The BC Secondary Schools Football Association has had cohort conferences and schedules in place since September.
Sweeney says there is only a “small chance” the organization receives approval to move a potential shortened season to January.
“It’s something we haven’t talked about yet. It’s akin to spring sports last year (that were completely cancelled). It would be the same as them asking to do their season in the fall,” he said. “You start stepping on the toes of other teams and the facilities (and fields) that would be required too.”
Sweeney adds a training “season” may not be ideal but it still provides an out-of-class experience for student athletes in a safe and supervised environment. It’s also important to get new and younger students involved in sports.
“It’s giving those Grade 8s something that is normal about high school because nothing is normal about it right now. To do something in person is really important,” he says. “We have to give these kids a chance to play and be exposed to those sports because they may not have been in the community or elementary school.
“I’m trying to be optimistic as possible but also realistic. I think there is an opportunity do it safely and as physically distance as we can. There won’t be fans or parents in the gym but it’s giving kids the opportunity to play and I think that’s most important.”