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New Fort High athletic director bracing for possible changes next year

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With the departure of athletic director Bob Grynol due to retirement, Ian Simpson will be the new man in charge of athletics at Fort High for the 1998-99 school year.

Simpson, the past-president of NWOSSAA, makes the transition from being the athletic director and vice-principal at Rainy River High School.

He also has served as an athletic director in Dryden.

While it has yet to be determined if Simpson will have an assistant next year (due to ongoing discussions between the school board and teachers), Fort High principal Terry Ellwood said he expected the athletic program to run just as smoothly as in past years.

“We did very well under Bob’s direction but Ian has been an athletic director at schools for years so there shouldn’t be a problem,” Ellwood said.

But Simpson admitted he will be entering his first term at Fort High with a sense of “apprehension” because of the ongoing discussions that will affect all teachers in the province, noting changes in teacher “prep” time may impact high school sports next season.

The greater workload would cut into teachers’ time spent outside of the classroom even further, he feared, making it more difficult to get teachers to volunteer to coach high school sports.

But he wouldn’t speculate on whether coaches would have to come from outside of the school system next year.

“Right now we’re in a state of flux,” Simpson said.

OFSAA also has concerns about the future of high school sports. In a letter dated June 17, it warned “changes to the support structure for school sport, which has been in place for the past 50 years, are a significant threat for future operation[s] of school sport programs.”

It went on to say the uncertainties of the new structure and funding guidelines will have a significant impact on the availability of volunteer/coaches, which are critical to the success of high school sport programs.

In fact, OFSAA already has decided that if 50 percent of the athletic associations which participated in last year’s championships in a particular sport cannot commit to this year’s championship, then that specific one will be cancelled.

A total of 30 all-Ontario championships are slated for the upcoming school year.

Still, despite all the uncertainty these days, Simpson said he’s excited to be part of the athletics program here next season--and he hopes the black-and-gold continue their success.

“Teams had a tremendously successful year last year and that can be attributed to excellent teacher-coaches,” he said. “We would like to keep that the same for next year.”

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