Labour politics be damned, nothing’s going to stop high school sports on the South Island.
Regardless of whether this week’s B.C. Teachers’ Federation vote passes, plenty of high school sports programs in Greater Victoria have plans to continue even if there’s an official mandate for unionized teachers to withdraw from voluntary extracurricular activities in protest of Bill 22.
High school sports such as girls soccer, boys rugby, the School Bike League and track and field are all carrying on. Even more are about to get going with golf and tennis among the next seasons to start up.
“It’s not a good time for athletics,” said School Bike League commissioner Eric Simonson of Oak Bay High. “Many coaches (like me) think it is unfair to withdraw from extracurricular (activities).”
Simonson said negotiations involving the teachers’ union usually don’t touch extracurricular activities.
“I know other coaches will keep coaching despite the vote.”
Coaching is among the extracurricular activities that teachers in the Saanich School District, which covers the Peninsula and the northern edge of the municipality of Saanich, have already agreed to withdraw from.
“It’s a big grey area that’s been left up to the individual (teachers), with most continuing for now,” said Darren Reisig, athletic director at Claremont secondary.
“Claremont continued with all sports, but who’s doing what is up to that school or individual. If teachers aren’t doing it then community coaches (and parents) have stepped in.”
In some cases, practices and games have been a little less formal.
In the event it doesn’t pass, the local recommendation would stand, likely to be revisited at next month’s general meeting.
“This is not a cut and dry picket line, (in terms of) what would happen if a teacher continues,” said Sean Hayes, Saanich Teachers’ Association president.
“We’ve seen a prohibition on extracurricular before, in the early 2000s. I don’t remember anyone being sanctioned, but I do remember colleagues angry at colleagues, and teachers who continued to coach.”
Meanwhile, private schools Glenlyon Norfolk, Saint Michaels University, St. Andrew’s and Pacific Christian are helping to carry the load. Sharing the commissioner duties for the city’s track and field league are St. Andrew’s teachers Angela McLeish and Kevin Mennie. They’re able to offer ongoing support without facing any potential sanctions.
Likewise, St. Mikes’ teacher Eliot Anderson is the high school rugby commissioner.
“Many of our games are scheduled against independent schools so they’ll happen anyways. We wouldn’t be looking for games, we have a full schedule. We’ve got kids who’ve paid for the experience and we’ll give it to them.”
Anderson’s also heard some schools might not look for extra games as a show of support, should it come to that.
As for the school cycling league, Simonson intends to keep it alive however he can.
“I have many parents that can fill in for me if my union frowns on my participation.”