SHSAA making adjustments and planning for the future during COVID-19 pandemic

Photo Courtesy of Marc Smith Melfort’s Avery South, left, leads the field during a 4x100-metre relay race at the 2019 SHSAA track and field championships in Moose Jaw. This year’s meet, which was to be held in Yorkton next month, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hoopla in Prince Albert pushed back to 2022

In a normal timeline, high school students around the province would be competing in district meets this week as they looked to earn spots at the 2020 Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association’s provincial track and field championship.

Instead, like everyone else in the sporting world, the SHSAA season came to a screeching halt in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the basketball championships were cancelled due to an impasse in negotiations with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the Provincial Government, the playoffs would have been affected by the response to COVID-19.

In addition to Hoopla, which were set to take place in Regina in March, this month’s badminton championship in Nipawin and next month’s track and field championships in Yorkton were also cancelled.

“Everyone’s missing sports and we were really hoping that we’d be able to have those last two events, but our main goal right now is to make sure that everyone is staying safe,” SHSAA assistant executive director Dave Sandomirsky said on Monday.

“Those decisions weren’t easy to make, but they were the right decisions as we look back on it. Now we’re just planning for the future and when we can get back to playing sports.”

In addition to holding executive meetings and planning for their annual general meeting next month, the SHSAA has been in contact with sports organizations throughout Saskatchewan and high school athletics associations across Canada and the United States over the last couple of months.

“Part of those meetings have been to make sure that we are all up to date on the guidelines that the government and the health authority have put in place, along with sharing ideas of what can be done as we move forward,” Sandomirsky said.

“Although each province is different, we’re all in the same boat right now. Everything is so fluid with the COVID-19 situation and we’re all trying to put plans in place to see what we can do if we come back in the fall or whenever it is safe to go back to schools.”

Five of the SHSAA’s 10 athletic programs (cross country running, football, golf, soccer and volleyball) hold their provincial championships during the fall.

An update on how those seasons will play out will be announced by the end of June on the SHSAA’s website.

Meanwhile, there have been some changes to the scheduling of the three provincials that did not take place this year, as the 2020 hosts were given the chance to host again in 2021.

Regina will again welcome the top high school basketball programs in the province next March, which has pushed Prince Albert’s Hoopla hosting duties back to 2022.

“We had been in communication with the North Central District and they had indicated that they had started planning for Hoopla, but they weren’t too far along in the process, so they were happy to have Regina take their turn if they wanted to and host Hoopla the following year,” Sandomirsky said.

Meanwhile, Nipawin and Yorkton have elected not to host the badminton and track and field provincials next year, with those events now being hosted by Melville and Regina respectively.

“Yorkton had shown an interest in hosting the provincial track meet again…but the accommodations were quite tight there already and they weren’t sure if COVID-19 was going to have an effect on accommodations for the future, so they didn’t feel comfortable in accepting the hosting duties and then finding out there wasn’t enough room for everyone,” Sandomirsky said.

“With Regina accepting the hosting duties for track and field, they were also going to be hosting wrestling and Hoopla next year, so Saskatoon stepped up and offered to host the wrestling provincials in 2021 to help ease some of the logistics that go with hosting these major events.”