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High school sports set to resume

April 15, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

The full spectrum of high school sport returns to the Kingston area this week.

Teacher-coaches of teams in the Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association have overwhelmingly returned to the sidelines after a job action scuttled scholastic athletics at schools in the Limestone District School Board during the winter.

“With respect to the sports being offered, everything is as a normal spring,” KASSAA convenor Frank Halligan said Monday. “Everything seems to be in place to carry on, so that’s good news.”

Play will begin Wednesday afternoon with a pair of senior boys soccer games, between the Kingston Blues and Frontenac Falcons at Tindall Field at 3 o’clock and the Holy Cross Crusaders and Ernestown Eagles at the Queen’s upper west campus field at 3:30.

The boys and girls rugby seasons will commence Thursday with the Napanee Golden Hawks playing KC in a doubleheader at Nixon Field on the lower Queen’s campus, with the boys’ kickoff at 3 p.m.

The senior girls soccer season will open Monday.

When the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation ordered its members to withdraw their after-school coaching services in December, regular schedules here ground to a halt. The move was intended to bring pressure on the provincial government to withdraw controversial legislation and renew talks toward a new contract.

Teacher-coaches at Holy Cross and Regiopolis Notre Dame, whose union had settled its contract with separate school boards across the province last summer, continued to coach teams in truncated schedules. At a handful of public high schools in eastern Ontario, teams continued with community coaches, under the supervision of school principals.

Officially, however, KASSAA was shut down until the union encouraged its members to lift their moratorium last month.

Halligan said most of the teacher-coaches in the public board have resumed coaching. “In fact, there are some new names,” he said, “which is great.”

Some leagues are fully stocked with 12 teams, though at some schools there weren’t sufficient numbers to field soccer teams. “Other than that, it looks solid,” Halligan said, adding that there was “an excellent turnout” at a meeting of track and field coaches.

Halligan said based on the early arrival of spring-like weather the past couple of years, things had been in place to start all schedules this week but last week’s rain compromised playing fields. Schedules were rewritten with only the games slotted for artificial turf surfaces proceeding as originally planned.

Halligan said one new aspect this year is the creation of a girls rugby development program. Those games will be played on Friday afternoons, with an eye to reducing a wide discrepancy in the calibre of teams.

“Mainly due to the score differentials in some girls rugby games, there was a call to try and enhance things by encouraging a developmental league,” Halligan said. “(It will give) some teams a chance to give girls an opportunity to play in a more even competitive balance.

“Hopefully, at those schools that are doing that, it will encourage the development of the skills of rugby and keep kids playing. That’s the goal.”

The other thing for which Halligan hopes is never to have to deal with another such interruption.

“One of the things I see that’s positive in the outcome of this is it’s reinforced how important high school sports are to the schools themselves, and from the board angle it’s how do we work to enhance sport and not have this happen one more time,” he said.

“The number of times it’s occurred it’s been frustrating for those of us who love sports.”

 

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