HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

With Dave Makela

 

For Release: June 8th, 2000

 

That rush of wind you feel is the collective sigh of relief uttered by the organizing committees of the four O.F.S.A.A. Championships that were hosted by the S.D.S.S.A.A. this year.

Not only was this a record high for the S.D.S.S.A.A., but I'm sure it ranks among the top three in all of the Associations that make up the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Athletics.

More than a few of you have asked me about this - how in the world could the S.D.S.S.A.A. have bitten off so much in just one year? Well, we applied for two and received the two others simply by expressing an interest to host at some point in the future. The expression of this interest just happened to be during a year in which no other association expressed a similar interest and whammo - we're hosting.

In the past, the bidding process had been an exercise in patience and persistence (and some would say futility) - a group of mostly Southern Ontario athletic representatives voting on bid presentations made by a variety of mostly Southern Ontario associations (you do the math). The result, though often predictable, rendered the hosting of provincial championships more of a rarity in the North and discouraged would-be Northern Ontario conveners from making an official application.

In recent years, things have changed to a certain degree. Labour disputes have cast a shadow over the operations of many school athletic associations across the province, and although this has not prevented provincial championships from being hosted (there have been a few that actually have been cancelled), it certainly has caused them to be hosted by associations that might not otherwise receive the opportunity. And yes, you can count Sudbury amongst this "exclusive" group.

A few other recent examples in my mind would be Fort Frances (Girls' A/AA Soccer 2000), Dryden (Boys' Hockey 1999), North Bay (Girls A/AA Soccer 2001) and Thunder Bay (COED Badminton 2001). I doubt these associations would ever have received the chance to host these championships if our Southern counterparts were as fully active as they have been in the past.

And although not too many of our neighbours to the South may relish the opportunity to travel North as far as Thunder Bay (not exactly tickled about coming to North Bay or Sudbury either), I don't think that any of them would deny that once they get here, the organization is excellent, and the hospitality even better.

To this end, one more hearty thank you to the four sets of conveners that hosted our O.F.S.A.A.'s this year: Mary Waddell (Lo-Ellen) - Nordic Skiing, Bob Deeth and yours truly (Sudbury Secondary) - Senior Hockey, Clyde and Gundi Sheppard (Lasalle) - Badminton and Linda MacKenzie (Marymount) and Lloyd Rebeiro (St. Charles) - Girls' Soccer. You've done a simply wonderful job!

So this is the story of how the S.D.S.S.A.A. managed to attract four O.F.S.A.A.'s to Sudbury this year.

Regrets? None.

One last word about O.F.S.A.A. Girls' Soccer hosted on the weekend. You could have measured the smile on my face with a yardstick on Friday, having learned that both local entries, Lasalle and Lockerby, led by coaches Jen Bourget and John Downey respectively, advanced to the quarter final round. Lockerby lost their quarter final and Lasalle finished fourth, with the message firmly planted that Sudbury will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come in this sport. Congratulations to both teams on an excellent showing this weekend.

And a special congratulations to Lockerby Coach John Downey, for being named the O.F.S.A.A. Leadership in School Sport award winner at the soccer banquet last Thursday evening. John has been tremendously active in the sport over the years at the school and club level, as a coach, as an official, as an officials' assignor, as an organizer and convener and most importantly as one of Sudbury's most active soccer advocates.

John joins Linda MacKenzie, winner of the award in 1996, as the only other Sudburian to win this prestigious award in girls' soccer and offers proof to what I have always suspected: good things do happen to good people.

Congratulations and well deserved John!

 


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