HOOPLA up in the air as STF announces job action, Wednesday deadline set

Herald File Photo. A deadline of 3 p.m. Wednesday has been set to determine whether HOOPLA 2024 in Moose Jaw will proceed or not.

The St. Mary Marauders girls and Carlton Crusader boys basketball teams have punched their tickets to HOOPLA 2024 in Moose Jaw, but it remains to be seen if the tournament will go on as scheduled.

The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) announced on Monday morning that a two day withdrawal of extracurricular activities would occur on Thursday and Friday, Mar. 21-22.

In a press release to the Daily Herald, the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association (SHSAA) announced that HOOPLA would be canceled if sanctions were not lifted before 3 p.m. on Wednesday. HOOPLA was scheduled to tip off on Thursday afternoon.

Dwayne Gareau is the principal at Ecole St. Mary and also serves as the head coach of the Marauder girls basketball team.

He says he is hopeful that the negotiations will lead to sanctions being lifted prior to the hard deadline imposed by the SHSAA.

“lt’s obviously disappointing for a number of reasons. One, you’re coming off of a regional championship. You qualify for a Hoopla championship. When you get that news, you’re disappointed at the same time. You understand that there’s a process being played out right now through the STF negotiating team, as well as the government trustee bargaining negotiating team. You’re walking through all those things and you’re waiting to hear news from SHSAA and what their take is. Optimistically looking at it, the fact that there is at least some hope that they give a 3:00 PM deadline and that the two sides could work towards an agreement and hopefully sanctions will be lifted as we head into this week.”

The Marauder girls hosted a team meeting prior to their practice on Monday and they addressed the issue with players given the opportunity to speak freely on the issue.

Gareau says plenty of emotions were shown in the room, but the team as a whole is hopeful for the weekend ahead.

“There’s uncertainty, disappointment. There’s anger, frustration and they understand that it is a complex issue. All the natural human emotions that they’ve been through. We’re feeling the same way. We’re wanting to make sure that we once again try to not let that impact (us). We can control what we can control, it’s not 100% done. We’ll cross that bridge if we have to once we meet that firm deadline, which is going to be Wednesday.”

The Carlton Crusader boys secured a trip to HOOPLA with a pair of wins in the regional tournament over Swift Current and Lloydminster, before falling in overtime to North Battleford in the final.

Crusader head coach Randy Emmerson says he is hopeful to see Carlton compete for a championship, but his team is ready for whatever challenge the coming week will present them.

“Seeing this morning that the sanctions are planned, as we have all year, we believe in what we can achieve and we are going to tackle whatever challenges are in front of us. If the challenge turns out to be needing to cope with the disappointment of not going, in the end we play sports to develop and reveal character in people.”

A total of 48 teams compete in HOOPLA every year from across the province in all levels from 1A all the way through 5A. The event is hosted in a four-city rotation with Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw all getting the chance to welcome the best basketball teams Saskatchewan has to offer.

Emmerson says HOOPLA has a significant impact on student-athletes across the country and he hopes the two parties are able to come to an agreement where the event could continue to go on.

“I would only wish that the adults think of the opportunities that are lost. It’s HOOPLA, it’s not a tournament or an average weekend in the middle of January. This is what some kids have been working towards since they were in grade 7 or 8. When that gets taken away because the supposed adults in the room seem to be not letting that occur and we get artificial ultimatums that are offered and finger pointing that occurs and not a strength to get down to business and do what needs to be done. These kids could show those adults what it really means to battle and to have strength to dig deeper when you need to dig deeper.”

“This is one of those things that’s not in the world of sport, it’s in the world of politics. That shouldn’t belong on the court and it shouldn’t belong in kid’s sport. It’s one of those things that we will deal with whatever is thrown our way because in the end, hopefully we’ve built and revealed the strength of character in these kids to go forward.”