NORTH Shore high school spring sports leagues are in full swing despite job action that has taken some teacher coaches out of the game.
Last month members of the West Vancouver Teachers' Association voted to pull out of all extracurricular work in protest to the province's negotiating tactics in their ongoing contract dispute. Some teachers in North Vancouver have voluntarily followed suit although there has been no association-wide decision.
The job action, which sees teachers working bell-to-bell only, put the North Shore's spring sports seasons in jeopardy, particularly sports such as track and field and mountain biking that are driven mainly by teacher coaches. But with some schools and teachers stepping up to take on more responsibility and, in particular, community coaches and parents volunteering to take over teams, it appears as though all sports will be a go with most teams making it to the field this spring.
"All leagues are up and running," said the North Shore's schedule maker, North Shore Secondary Schools' Athletics Association co-ordinator Gerry Karvelis. "Basically there's scrambling, there's a lot of last-minute adjustments but it looks like 90-plus per cent of the teams that we normally field are being fielded this year."
Track and field, a sport that requires a lot of technical knowledge and equipment, was the biggest worry but at an emergency meeting held Wednesday night it was decided that there were enough volunteers to hold the exhibition meets, preliminaries and zone championships as scheduled.
"A lot of people stepped forward," said Karvelis. "A lot of them have children involved in track and field so they're somewhat familiar with it and feel comfortable with it. Other schools have taken on more responsibility than they originally were supposed to."
Girls' soccer is a major spring sport and, with a glut of community coaches already working with schools and others signing up to help, the action on the pitch should run without a hitch.
"We actually have more junior teams this year than we've ever had," said Karvelis. "A lot of schools are actually fielding two junior teams this year."
Other spring sports that are running at or near normal levels are badminton, tennis, golf and ultimate. Rugby seasons are also getting underway despite that sport's normal reliance on teacher coaches.
Not every team has made it to the field this season. Job action in Sea to Sky School District 48 will keep Howe Sound and Don Ross secondaries from competing in the North Shore mountain biking league, a sport those schools typically thrive in. Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast has also pulled teams out of some sports and West Vancouver secondary informed the NSSSAA this week that it will not field a tennis team.
A province-wide teacher vote scheduled for April 17 could place North Van coaches into job action as well but Karvelis said most teams and schools have contingency plans in place if that occurs.
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