The majority of public high school sports leagues will continue in Vancouver but three schools have turned off the lights on their competitive spring seasons.
David Thompson, Windermere and University Hill secondary schools are not running sports teams. Windermere halted school sports after spring break and teachers at the other two schools made the decision last Friday or early this week.
As of Tuesday morning, the tennis and junior ultimate leagues will not continue on an official basis because there are fewer than four competing schools. The Point Grey junior ultimate team is cancelled, meaning Winston Churchill, Gladstone and Kitsilano will meet unofficially to play. Players from the senior B ultimate team at Point Grey will partner with Britannia; that league will continue.
Teachers across B.C. voted 73 per cent in favour of an action plan to withdraw extracurricular activities such as sports, drama and graduation ceremonies in protest of Bill 22, government legislation harshly criticized by the teachers’ union, the BCTF.
The action is not an organized job stoppage or strike but may continue or escalate through September and the next school year. Individual teachers can decide how to proceed.
The Vancouver Secondary School Athletic Association will officially operate a sports league if four teams participate.
Although teams that began the season have withdrawn from a number of leagues, boys bantam and juvenile volleyball will continue. So will girls tier I and II soccer, boys rugby, badminton, and track and field.
English teacher Fred Gault has coached since his first semester at Magee 24 years ago and said continuing to lead the school’s two girls soccer teams was not a hard decision in spite of the vote result. “For me it’s part of what I do. Extracurriculars, it’s part of what makes my job as great as it is, it’s where memories are made for the kids and it makes life special.”
The veteran teacher said he intends to keep his commitment he set at the beginning of this school year. He believes, however, Bill 22 is flawed legislation that compromises classroom composition and said, “If this continues into September, I probably will join my colleagues and not [coach] or I’ll arrange for it.”
VSSAA president Mike Allina told the Courier last week that each teacher decides if he or she will coach.
Gault, a member of the VSSAA executive, said this feeling carries over into the athletic department at Magee.
The decision is stressful for many teachers, Jameel Aziz, the president of the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association told CBC Radio Monday morning.
“I know that many teachers are actually struggling with this and many coaches are struggling with this,” he said, noting the emotional toll.
“I know the real challenge, especially over the last couple of weeks was that teachers who don’t provide those services to students were actually the ones who were able to have input on to whether or not this occurred.”
At David Thompson, student-athletes were running track this week although notices had circulated that sports teams were cancelled. School principal Iona Wishaw said it wasn’t entirely clear if the team was continuing or if the students were leading their own practice.