N.S. school sports picture becomes clearer, but many still sidelined
HALIFAX -- With less than two weeks until kids head back to Nova Scotia schools, a few high school sports have the go-ahead to compete as normal, but most have only been approved to have limited practices, with no indication as to whether they will be able to play real games this season.
Mike Tanner, a football coach at Citadel High School in Halifax, has been coaching high school football for 50 years.
But this will be a training camp unlike any other.
"We're not going to be in gear, we're going to try the assess the kid on his skill, not ability to hit or protect himself, so it is a little bit limiting, but it's the best we've got," Tanner said.
Football is one of the high school sports that has not been approved for competition, but will be allowed to begin practising on Sept. 14.
Hockey, soccer, basketball, rugby and cheer are also in limbo. Athletes are allowed to practise in groups of 10, but it remains uncertain if they will be allowed to compete at any point this school year.
"Right now, in the group size of 10, that doesn't make hockey or basketball logistically possible, so there would have to be a change in that grouping number for those sports to be able to have competition," said Stephen Gallant of the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation.
Only three sports -- golf, baseball and softball -- have gotten the go-ahead to play as normal. Other sports, like volleyball, are approved to play, but will look different than ever before.
"We will have a roster limit of 10 players; also they've done some rule changes, for instance, on the serve everybody will have to be behind the three-metre line, that means there will be no one on the defending side close to the net."
The CEO of Sport Nova Scotia says that, despite all of the challenges, it is vital that the game goes on.
"We know that sport contributes to physical health, has a big impact on our children's educational experience and how well they perform and enjoy their school," said Jamie Ferguson. "We know what it does for their social development, so it's vital."
While he won't be coaching football games this fall for the first time in 50 years, Tanner says the ability to practice is important for many players, especially those in Grade 12.
"It gives the kids the hope that there will be football during the course of the year, hopefully in the spring," Tanner said.
Gallant says the NSSAF is closely monitoring the advice of public health, and will make changes as needed -- as coaches and athletes alike hope they'll have something to play for.