How Viking Athletes Lost their Sports this Year

Members of the Senior Girls Curling Team participating at one of their last events of the season. Photo by Mr. Shearer.

Since the first day of school this year, sports teams at WCI could not have looked more promising. Each and everyone of them had a shot at doing something amazing with their seasons, and several of them did, but not every team had an opportunity to.

The unfortunate barriers that stood in the way of sports this year will be ones that students and teachers will not forget.

Weather

On Friday, February 28th, the WCSSAA Curling Championship Tournament got cancelled due to bad weather. The event was set to take place at the Westmount Golf Course, although the school board made the call that all sports would be cancelled that day, leaving the athletes having to go to school, with no rescheduled tournament to be made.

This was not the first time that school sporting events were postponed or, in this case, not rescheduled at all. During the fall season, the Senior Boys Volleyball Team made it to the WCSSAA finals and were determined to defend their championship title. However, WRDSB deemed it too dangerous to travel, which resulted in the finals taking place on a Monday after school, at Grand River Collegiate, a very unusual time slot for the annual event. The boys lost in three straight sets, and despite still getting to compete at CWOSSA – which they would later on win and head to OFSAA – some would argue that the change of schedule is what caused such a deficit in their performance.

To name a few others, the Senior Girls Volleyball and Senior Boys Basketball teams were both scheduled to play Waterloo Oxford for their last games of the regular WCSSAA season, but these games were cancelled. The basketball team was able to reschedule, but the volleyball team was not.

The Senior Girls Volleyball CWOSSA tournament also had to be rescheduled due to weather, and many were concerned this would ruin the momentum of the team, who ended up making it to the OFSAA finals later on.

Most students at WCI who play on these sports teams plan their days and weeks based on their schedules. Carolyn P., a grade 12 student on the Senior Girls Volleyball team had this to say about the cancellation of CWOSSA: “I wasn’t a huge fan because I had planned my school stuff around being away that Thursday and being at school on Monday. I had a test schedule that Thursday so it was a bit annoying.” 

Many other students share this same frustration, and are always confused as to why sporting events get cancelled due to weather even though everyone is currently at school.

According to the WRDSB website, “If buses are cancelled and schools remain open, some athletic events may still happen, including transportation to these events. The decision to cancel sporting events on these days will depend on the road conditions at the end of the day, the availability of players and more.”

This means that the cancellation process for sporting events usually takes place throughout the school day, and that current weather conditions are the main concern before games are supposed to take place. If the weather is deemed safe to travel in during the morning but worsens by the ending of the school day, sports can be cancelled. 

Teacher Strikes

To make matters worse for not just WCI, but all WRDSB athletes, the teacher strikes that took place between December and February created lots of stress for those participating in sports.

The strikes affected schools’ winter teams more so than fall teams, and many wondered whether winter sports would be able to finish their seasons. Four out of nine winter team sports had game days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so when strikes occurred on Wednesdays, these teams missed crucial practice time. For the remaining five sports, schedules depended on the availability of rinks, pools, or ski hills, which added another layer to work around if events got cancelled.

Some sports were luckier than others, such as the Senior and Junior Boys Basketball teams, the Senior and Junior Girls Volleyball teams, and the Swim team, who were all able to finish off their competitions in WCSSAA, CWOSSA, and OFSAA.

As for hockey, both WCI teams finished their season with defeats, but Bluevale Collegiate, who won CWOSSA and was OFSAA bound, did not get to play because of a different, more pressing issue than the weather. 

COVID-19 Pandemic

On Thursday, March 12th, the Ministry of Education announced that “all publicly funded schools in Ontario will be closed for two weeks following March Break, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Since that announcement, the virus has continued to spread and the date for schools possibly opening has been pushed to May 4th.

Although many are hopeful that the virus will be gone by then, there is a chance it will not be, and in that case, students and teachers will not return to school at all this year. Sadly, that means the spring season of sports will be completely missed, which for many athletes is a hard pill to swallow.

WCI’s Boys Rugby team is always very strong and competitive, but will not get to hit the field this spring. Jett S., a grade 12 student who would have been on the team says that “it may be my last season for spring sports at WCI so it obviously hurts more.” 

Throughout the cancellation of school and all the events that take place at the end of the year like Athletic Banquet and Prom, many seniors who planned on graduating are crushed to see their high school careers end this way.

Claire K., another grade 12 student who would have been on the Girls Rugby team says, “Losing my last year of rugby is honestly heartbreaking. This was my last chance to play with my team that’s become a family to me and to let down all these new players by not being able to help them learn is devastating for all of us. For all the grade 12s and fifth years it was our last chance to leave it all out on the field and play our hearts out for the last time and now it’s gone.” 

Sports play a very big role in school life at WCI for many students and teachers. Of course, they are meant to keep us physically active, but some would say there is something about school sports that make them particularly special.

Playing alongside friends promotes leadership while representing your school builds team spirit which creates a sense of community. From events being cancelled due to weather conditions, teacher strikes, and, now, a pandemic, it’s needless to say it has been a rough year for school sports. In spite of all the challenges the school board and students were faced with these past months, achievements and accomplishments from recent years are being reflected on through social media and have become memories that all athletes are incredibly thankful for.