Ice hockey re­turns to school sports

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYMATT MOLLOY

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.

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