Airdrie's and Rocky View County's public high-school sports teams will be limited to playing against their divisional opponents until further notice.
According to Rocky View Schools' (RVS) Return to School Operational Plan, updated on Jan. 11, sporting events are only allowed to proceed if two school teams are involved. That means RVS' sports teams are not able to take part in tournament-style events for the foreseeable future.
The public school district has also temporarily paused field trips.
In addition, schools will implement restrictions to limit spectators at extracurricular and sporting events, according to the Jan. 11 update.
“All spectators over the age of 18 must show proof of immunization or proof of a negative pharmacy/laboratory verified paid test within the past 72 hours,” the document reads. “This does not apply to RVS students. Spectator attendance at outdoor events is not restricted but must remain physically distanced from one another at all times.”
The Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) oversees RVS' sporting competition, and encompasses seven public high schools in Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, and Rocky View County.
The RVSA season for most sports typically sees teams play against each other once, before the season concludes with the RVSA playoffs. After the RVSA playoffs, the top-placing teams compete in the South Central Zones tournaments, which offer the chance to qualify for provincial championships at the 3A or 4A level, depending on the school's enrolment.
Brian Hunter, the head coach of the Springbank Phoenix senior boys' basketball team, said he was disappointed to hear about the ban on tournaments, adding the loss of tournament play “takes away” from the experience of high-school athletics for the players.
“My general view is, I have Grade 12 kids who didn’t finish their Grade 10 season, had no Grade 11 season, and now their Grade 12 season is going to be a few December tournaments and [six] league games,” he said.
Hunter said his Springbank team was slated to compete in three tournaments in January and February, including competitions in Strathmore and Trochu. While he claimed those tournaments are still going ahead, he added no teams from RVS will be permitted to compete at them.
“My personal opinion is that it doesn’t gain anything,” he said. “If these kids don’t play in these tournaments, they’re going to go to malls or parties, so I’m not sure how this is going to reduce COVID spread. It really does hit their physical and mental development, so I don’t agree with it at all.”
After the three-week winter break, regular-season action resumed for Rocky View County's high-school basketball teams on Jan. 12.
Competing at home, the Phoenix lost their second game of the RVSA calendar on Jan. 12, falling 65-43 to the first-place Chestermere Lakers.
Hunter said a slow start from his squad paved the way for Chestermere to take a commanding lead. Despite an improved performance as the game wore on, he said the difference was too much for Springbank to make up in the second half.
“At the beginning, I thought we were a little tentative – we’d been off for a while – but I thought we played a really strong second half against a very good team,” he said.
He added Springbank's players struggled from behind the three-point line all night, converting just four of their 30 three-point shots.
Repetitive turnovers against a strong team also proved costly, according to Hunter.
“They play excellent on defence – as usual,” he said of the unbeaten Lakers. “They’re really well-structured and have two or three really good ball-handlers and scorers.”
The loss give the Springbank squad a 1-2 record, midway through the 2021-22 season. Next up for the team will be a battle against the Bow Valley Bobcats on Jan. 18.
“I’m looking forward to playing those guys,” Hunter said. “They’re also pretty good, and I think one of the better teams in our league.”
Following the game against Bow Valley, the Phoenix will be off until Feb. 8, when they host the Bert Church Chargers. They will then wrap up the regular season on Feb. 15, when they make the short jaunt to Cochrane to take on the Cobras.
“We’ll try to practise over the break because we’ll have access to the gym, which is nice,” Hunter said.
In terms of other results, the Cochrane Cobras maintained their unbeaten start to the season Jan. 12, beating the visiting W.H. Croxford Cavaliers 94-72. The Cobras are in second place with a 2-0 record.
For a full schedule, visit rvsa.rockyview.ab.ca