BOW VALLEY – High schools sports are a go in the Bow Valley, with a busy fall schedule set in light of the province’s newest restrictions.
One local school division is revising its re-entry plan, which includes sports, but there is an optimism that interschool competition, in one form or another, will continue in 2021-22 after more than a year on the sidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The kids are just excited to be back and playing," said Darren Anderson, athletic director at Canmore Collegiate High School (CCHS). “I think the main thing is we’re trying to be flexible and the coaches and kids have been good ... because they've been off for so long, there's no pressure. We have a bit of time to get everyone back in routine and get everyone's skills back where they used to be before we all got shut down."
To start the year, local divisions Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS) and Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools green lit interschool competition, including special exemptions for outdoor sports such as football, golf, soccer and cross-country running to travel outside the Bow Valley and to have other teams visit.
For indoor sports, like volleyball, CRPS approved competition between local high schools CCHS, Banff Community High School (BCHS) and Our Lady of the Snows (OLS).
At OLS, the school's volleyball teams are allowed to travel to weekend tournaments outside of the Bow Valley.
The three high schools have worked together to create a schedule for a new Bow Valley volleyball league for Grade 9, junior varsity and senior teams.
"We're putting together some league/exhibition games with CCHS and OLS in the upcoming weeks," said Ian Higginbottom, BCHS' athletic director.
As games are being played this week in football, golf, and soccer, CRPS is revising its re-entry plan, which is expected to be ready Monday (Sept. 27).
The local school division's review was to coincide with the province’s re-evaluation of its health conditions; however, Alberta implemented restrictions earlier this month as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations began spiking and introduced the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP), a proof-of-vaccination system that came into effect Sept. 20.
For CRPS schools, Alberta's restrictions didn't change much in terms of sports.
With the original re-entry plan, the division already had in place some of the newest guidelines, said Anderson, who is encouraged that sports will continue this year.
"I think we would be able to compete locally throughout the year, I hope, unless things change," said Anderson, "but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we could do some other travelling and things, but still nothing official yet and next week hopefully we'll know a bit more."