Re­gional and pro­vin­cial win­ners for six sports won’t be de­cided this school year

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY T.J. COLELLO & TINA COMEAU TC ME­DIA sports@cb­ On Twit­ter: @cb­post_s­ports

There will be no NSSAF re­gional and pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships this year.

The Glace Bay Pan­thers boys hockey team was sup­posed to host the Nova Sco­tia School Ath­letic Fed­er­a­tion Divi­sion 1 cham­pi­onship next month, but with the high school sea­son put on hold, that tour­na­ment won’t be hap­pen­ing.

On Wed­nes­day, the Nova Sco­tia School Ath­letic Fed­er­a­tion of­fi­cially can­celled re­gional and pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships in six school sports: Hockey, bas­ket­ball, snow­board­ing, ski­ing, curl­ing and wrestling.

Goal­tender Kaine Drake was in his fi­nal sea­son with the Pan­thers be­fore the sea­son was side­lined due to the teach­ers work-to- rule job ac­tion in the prov­ince on Dec. 5. He was named the Cape Breton High School Hockey League’s top goal­tender and play­off MVP last sea­son.

“It’s up­set­ting,” said the 17-year-old Grade 12 stu­dent from New Water­ford. “It was our first time to host provin­cials and in my opin­ion, I thought we had the team to take home the ban­ner and win the first time at home and ever in Glace Bay High’s his­tory.”

The an­nual Pan­ther Clas­sic tour­na­ment was also can­celled this year. Many of the dis­placed high school play­ers are skat­ing in a lo­cal midget ‘X’ league in­stead.

“It’s tough for the school and even the com­mu­nity of Glace Bay,” said Drake. “To see the lit­tle kids in the stands watch­ing us, they love the game just as much as we do.”

Stephanie O’Neill, who coached the Riverview Roy­als girls bas­ket­ball team, said it’s dis­ap­point­ing her team won’t get a chance to rep­re­sent the school at the pro­vin­cial level.

The Roy­als won the Divi­sion 1 High­land Re­gion ban­ner last sea­son and hoped for a re­peat. Riverview had five se­niors on its ros­ter.

“It’s very dis­ap­point­ing for all the ath­letes, how­ever, we’re in sup­port of the teach­ers and they had to do what they had to do,” said O’Neill, who’s now coach­ing in Bas­ket­ball Cape Breton’s U18 girls league that in­cludes many dis­placed high school play­ers. “Luck­ily, Bas­ket­ball Cape Breton came into play and we were able to sal­vage some­what of a sea­son to con­tinue with our games.”

NSSAF ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Stephen Gal­lant said al­though it wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion, it came down to time.

The NSSAF over­sees 19 dif­fer­ent school sports. There are boys and girls teams and also three di­vi­sions in each sport. Di­vi­sions are based on school size. The NSSAF did look at the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­tend­ing sea­sons.

“There’s a lot of mov­ing pieces and parts so to ex­tend any sea­son has a rip­ple ef­fect in a whole bunch of ways,” Gal­lant said, ex­plain­ing you run into con­flicts for gym space, planned school trips and other school-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties.

“School sport is an im­por­tant piece of school life, it’s not the only piece of school life,” he said, not­ing as win­ter school sports wind down you have other school sports start­ing up, such as bad­minton, table ten­nis, rugby, soft­ball, etc.

Gal­lant said this can cre­ate over­lap sit­u­a­tions for ath­letes, coaches, vol­un­teers and school ad­min­is­tra­tors.

“It’s a whole net­work and we just couldn’t push things back,” he said. “So when you can’t push them back the ques­tion is how do we get them in? Bas­ket­ball, the re­gional cham­pi­onships were sup­posed to be last week­end, so you’re talk­ing about 81 boys teams, 81 girls teams, how do you do that in two weeks? It just sim­ply isn’t pos­si­ble.”

Gal­lant said there is also the ques­tion of de­ter­min­ing what teams would re­turn to the NSSAF fold as some teams left school sports for other op­tions, hockey be­ing an ex­am­ple. In Jan­uary, Hockey Nova Sco­tia, with the as­sis­tance of lo­cal mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tions, started up a midget ‘X’ league for side­lined hockey ath­letes. Midget ‘X’ provin­cials are be­ing played at the SEDMHA tour­na­ment in Hal­i­fax, March 31-April 3, which con­flicts with the tim­ing of Divi­sion 1 high school provin­cials, Gal­lant said. Divi­sion 2 and 3 hockey provin­cials were to go the week­end be­fore SEDMHA, with re­gion­als hav­ing wrapped up by March 10 ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal NSSAF sched­ule.

“You also have March break, which is a week at the end and the be­gin­ning that his­tor­i­cally we don’t do school sports be­cause peo­ple have travel plans,” Gal­lant said.

On Tues­day, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment passed leg­is­la­tion that im­poses a con­tract on teach­ers and dis­al­lows any strike ac­tion, in­clud­ing work to rule. A memo that day sent to teach­ers from the NSTU re­gard­ing teacher re­spon­si­bil­i­ties post work to rule said teach­ers “may use their in­di­vid­ual pro­fes­sional dis­cre­tion in de­ter­min­ing the ex­tent of their in­volve­ment” in things such as ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.


Goal­tender Kaine Drake of New Water­ford, shown last sea­son as a mem­ber of the Glace Bay Pan­thers of the Cape Breton High School Hockey League. The Grade 12 stu­dent and his team­mates were sup­posed to host the NSSAF Divi­sion 1 boys cham­pi­onship, but re­gional and pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship tour­na­ments were can­celled for six dif­fer­ent sports on Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing hockey.

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