Cancellation of Saskatoon fall sports 'disappointment' for Grade 12 student
SASKATOON -- Cam Friesen’s high school football career is over.
“It's definitely a disappointment,” said Friesen, a Grade 12 student who plays for the Bethlehem Stars.
“As a senior, I was going to play my last year in football. It's tough to imagine not being back on that field again with my fellow teammates.”
The Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletics Directorate has announced that fall high school sports - football, volleyball, track and field, and soccer - have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not a decision we took lightly,” said Jud Heilman with SSSAD.
Senior administration with Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools were involved in the decision, he said,.
It was in the best interest of the health and safety of everyone involved with delivering high school sports, including athletes, coaches, volunteers and the community, he said.
Friesen said he’d like to continue playing football beyond high school, starting with post secondary, but missing out on his final year of high school ball will make it that much harder to get recruited or attain a scholarship.
“I won't be able to put out film for coaches and university to help advertise myself. It’s definitely taken up a lot of my life because essentially it's my future into the rest of what I'm going to be doing for my lifetime.”
“My heart goes out to those guys in a big way,” said Chad Palmer, head coach of the Aden Bowman Bears football team and coordinator with Saskatoon Minor Football.
“They've worked hard for a long time, and guys like (Cameron), they've been playing for 10 years, and this is where it all comes together and they get to be the big dogs, being Grade 12, and they get that ripped away.”
Palmer said Saskatoon Minor Football doesn’t want to “compete with SSSAD” or “step on anybody’s toes” but are working on plans to still have football played in Saskatoon this fall.
“We have some stuff in mind, obviously we want to provide tackle football for kids,” he said. “That's tough within the guidelines, it's gonna be tough to have a good tackle experience for these guys. So we're trying to figure out how that works within the guidelines, and make that work. At the very least, there'll be at least non-contact for guys. We're throwing around a lot of ideas, but what that's gonna look like I don't want to say yet, because it's going to be hard.”
Heilman said the SSSAD and provincial governing body the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Associaion (SHSAA) are “not going to be offering any of those sports in our high schools” and there won’t be any championships played, but if COVID-19 numbers were down across the board upon return to school, said there may be another discussion.
“It's so fluid and dynamic that would be made when that happens,” he said. “And so we'd have to look at the direction from the chief medical officer, the RPT, our school boards, so on and so forth.”
The SSSAD is prepared for winter sports if they get the “green light,” he said.
“We've put all our fall sports on hold, and [are doing] the best we can to make sure that it's a safe fall for our staff and students, and with hopes that we have winter sport.”