Just two days before they were ready to start their high school football season, Surrey schools have been sidelined.
A decision by the Surrey School District to cancel all extra-curricular activities during the strike by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation meant that after weeks of practice, preseason games scheduled for last weekend didn’t take place.
“On Thursday (Sept. 4), we got a call from our principal saying School District No. 36 (Surrey) has decided to put a halt to all extra curricular activities,” said Frank Hurt Hornets head coach Duane Linnen. “He gave us a lot of reasons, none of which made any sense to me.”
Linnen, one of 10 coaches on the Hornets staff who are volunteers from the community, were expecting to play the Handsworth Royals Saturday afternoon at Frank Hurt Secondary.
But that game, including others involving Surrey schools, didn’t take place.
“Any extra-curricular activity is canceled, and sports teams are wrapped up in that,” said Doug Strachan, communications manager with the Surrey School District. “It’s a sad and frustrating situation. But they don’t have teacher sponsors and the district can’t incur the liability.”
While parents and/or volunteers are permitted to coach high school sports teams, a teacher at each school is required to act as a sponsor.
And while other school districts – including Delta – are allowing their teams to play under volunteer coaching, Surrey will not without a teacher sponsor.
“That connection has to be there,” explained Strachan, adding each district decides independently how to handle such situations, saying each is “like a snowy day” when each district must decide whether to cancel classes.
The Hornets were to play the Sentinel Spartans in North Vancouver next Saturday (Sept. 13) but the game has been canceled. After another scheduled preseason game Sept. 20 in Kamloops, the Hornets were set to start regular season play Oct. 4.
The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers are in a similar situation, having a game last weekend in Victoria canceled, as well as a preseason game in Nanaimo on Saturday. Their first regular season game in the Okanagan on Sept. 19 against the Kelowna Owls is also in doubt.
Meanwhile, Delta’s two high schools met at Seaquam Secondary Saturday, where the Senior AAA South Delta Sun Devils blanked the Senior A Seaquam Seahawks 31-0.
“Why is (School District) No. 36 the only one not playing?” Linnen asks. “It’s very frustrating.”