The province-wide teachers’ strike that started Monday could have an adverse affect on students—both in the classroom and on the athletic fields.
All four Muskies floor teams and the football squad have had their seasons put on hold when talks between the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government failed to avert a walkout.
Those athletes most affected by the layoff will be the seniors playing in their final season for the Muskies.
In fact, given the distance between schools in NorWOSSA and the colder weather fast approaching, those seasons may be in serious jeopardy if the strike is a lengthy one.
It is a worry shared by both players and coaches alike.
“It’s kind of hard to go out and think I may have played my last game on the weekend,” Missy Hughes, a member of the senior girls’ basketball team, said from her home Monday morning.
“It’s hard to think about the strike.”
“It’s disappointing because you would like to see some sort of closure to the season,” added Muskie defensive co-ordinator Brent DeBenedet, whose team is slated to play in the NorWOSSA football final here Nov. 8.
“My concern is with the senior players and the fact they may have played their last football game," he added. "I hope there is some sort of closure.”
Struchan Gilson, who coaches girls’ volleyball here, said the strike also may have an impact when the floor teams switch sports in December.
“We may be affected as well but because our season is stretched over quite a long time, we’d be able to cram it in,” he noted.
But with the current seasons slated to conclude in the next few weeks, all five teams face the possibility of having them either shortened—or perhaps cancelled altogether.
In fact, tomorrow’s floor team action here between Fort High and Kenora has been postponed, as has Saturday’s regular-season football finale pitting the Muskies against the host Dryden Eagles.
Still, the football team is conducting practices among the players only at the arena field (off school grounds) this week.
And the Muskie hockey team, which was scheduled to begin its first official practice Monday under new head coach Glen Edwards, was forced to practice on their own that morning—a time normally spent in the classroom.
Bob Swing, head coach of the Muskie football team, warned his players will need at least five days’ notice before they play their next game. That, he said, protects the safety of his players, who must get back into game situation after a layoff without physical contact.
And Fort High principal Terry Ellwood said any length of time away from the gridiron may affect the NorWOSSA final Nov. 8.
“There’s always a chance it may be cancelled if it gets so prohibitively cold that it puts the players in danger," he said. "But we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope it works out.”