Ice hockey returns to school sports
Ice hockey is in the initial stages of returning as an official sport with School Sports Newfoundland and Labrador (SSNL).
In 2008, ice hockey was removed from the SSNL calendar due to registration issues between SSNL and Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador.
The story made headlines around the province, but at this year’s SSNL annual meeting May 30-31 in St. John’s, ice hockey was accepted back as a demonstration sport.
Mike Ball, the newly elected president of SSNL, remembers when ice hockey was removed from the SSNL calendar.
“I was part of the ice hockey committee when it was taken off our calendar. There were just a lot of problems between HNL and SSNL to try and come to terms on an agreement. Because of all that, we just had to take hockey off our calendar because we had lost control of it,” said Ball, who teaches in Deer Lake. “Now, with times changing and high school hockey leagues going on and the rules bringing itself back to the way SSNL and HNL agreed to before, we’re right back to where we started and everything seems to be going fine.”
It’s anticipated ice hockey will be a big draw, but it will still be a demonstration sport this coming year.
Ball said qualification tournaments will be held, but provincials will be a one-division tournament. Therefore, there won’t be AA, AAA and AAAA provincial tournaments, as it is for official SSNL sports like volleyball and basketball.
“A demonstration sport simply means we’ll do it for a trial run because we want to see how many areas are interested. If we see we have the right number of regions participating, and we feel the sport is alive and well, then it becomes an official sport on our calendar,” said Ball. “We know ice hockey is going to be a hotbed. Normally, demonstration sports are very limited in the number of teams they have, so we have open qualifiers and an open provincial tournament.
“You’re going to have your AAA teams meeting up with your AAAA teams in the qualification tournaments, but that’s it. That’s how it goes for a year. We can’t change the rules on that.”
Ice hockey wasn’t the only demonstration sport welcomed by SSNL, as golf was also added. Touch football remains a demonstration sport, while indoor soccer graduated from a demonstration sport to official sport.
According to Ball, adding indoor soccer as an official sport should have been done before now.
“That was an oversight. That should have been an official sport last year. It just never made it to the AGM as a resolution, and it got overlooked,” he said.
“Indoor soccer is also a great small school sport. It’s fun, it’s fast, and any school can do it.”
Sign of the times
Along with adding new demonstration and official sports, SSNL was busy adapting a new transgender policy.
Ball said SSNL decided to take a proactive approach when it came to adapting this policy, saying the governing school sports body wanted to make sure it was ready in case a transgendered athlete wanted to compete in sports.
“We took the policies that are in place and we used them as a baseline,” said Ball. “If it gets challenged, we’re more than open to changing it to suit the needs of those transgender athletes.
“If you have a transgender athlete, they’re having a hard enough time being in a school, let alone attempting to play a sport. But if we have a policy in place and they saw it and knew what it was and they have a feel of where they fit, hats off to them.”
SSNL accomplished much more at its AGM, including adapting a number of new rules for ball hockey, adjusting roster sizes for provincial and regional basketball, volleyball and soccer tournaments, and adding new rules to badminton, table tennis and softball.
A complete list of rule changes can be found by visiting SSNL’s website, www.schoolsportsnl.ca.
WELCOME BACK — Ice hockey will return as a SSNL demonstration sport next year, much to the delight of new SSNL president, Mike Ball. That decision was made at the recent SSNL AGM, which took place late last month in St. John’s.