B.C. high school sports teams are facing more setbacks as COVID restrictions continue to be imposed, with the ministry of education announcing the will not allow school sports tournaments to take place in the coming weeks, and possibly longer.
That announcement came as club and community sports tournaments were told to start up again as of Feb. 1.
It throws a wrench into the season of the Golden Secondary School Eagles senior and junior boys’ basketball teams are now faced with a second straight season of games disrupted by COVID regulations.
With tournaments cancelled, the team has settled for sporadic scheduled games, which often have to be postponed or rescheduled as teams are affected by COVID.
So far this season, the senior boys’ team has only played four games, but are off to a blazing 3-1 start, with high hopes to win the East Kootenay Championships (EKs), which would qualify them for provincials.
But now, those plans are in flux.
“It’s definitely been a bummer,” said Jacob Tetrault, a ninth grader who plays up with the senior boys.
“Not being able to play, you feel robbed, but we make do with what we have and we try our best to play and still have fun.”
“That sums up the last two years. We’ve had to work with whatever the restrictions have been around them to facilitate for these boys to even play,” added coach Len Oszust.
Last year, the team wasn’t able to play or even practice in their own facility, paying out of their own pockets to rent gym time at the Rec Plex to be able to practice and save some of the season.
While it makes it tough for the team, Oszust says it shows the dedication of the team that players have managed to pull together over the last two years, and retain a strong desire to be on the court.
“The commitment is there on their part, they want to play for sure. They’re even willing to pay to play,” said Oszust.
For many of the older players, the COVID restrictions have interrupted the final two years of their high school basketball eligibility.
For the players coming up behind them, they have missed time to develop their skills.
Isaac Tetrault, who lost his senior year of playing last year and has returned to help coach this year, said not having the ability to play can be hard on the players.
“Missing out on my senior year, and I was the only senior on the team, it really affected me,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate being able to see everyone else playing, and being on the sidelines, but I like to support the team no matter what and keep the energy high and the positivity there.”
For Jim de Bolbec, who as team manager has been navigating the COVID restrictions, it’s hard not to get cynical when teams not associated with a school are allowed to resume playing games and tournaments.
“Our EKs are supposed to be in Fernie, but we can’t make reservations or plans because we don’t know what’s going on, especially in these ski communities,” said de Bolbec.
“It’s hard to get a team together, and you can’t just call up on a Wednesday and ask for nine rooms in a hotel for the Friday.”
Still, the team is feeling good about their chances to win the EKs and make it to provincials – if the tournaments are allowed to resume in time.