Whalers hit the field amid questions

Former Ballenas Whaler Dustin Rodriguez (in black) had a big day, along with the rest of the Vancouver Island Raiders, as they beat the first place Langley Rams 52-44. - Submitted photo by Greg Sakaki
Former Ballenas Whaler Dustin Rodriguez (in black) had a big day, along with the rest of the Vancouver Island Raiders, as they beat the first place Langley Rams 52-44.
— image credit: Submitted photo by Greg Sakaki

With football season and the school year right around the corner, the Ballenas Whalers are hitting the gridiron.

The season, however, might not be the same if the gap between the teachers and government can’t be closed by the time the season kicks off. Whalers head coach Jeremy Conn has been sidelined from team practices until there is a provincial resolution.

It’s an effect being felt in all schools, especially those with teachers who double as coaches. Teams are unable to use facilities, like the gym at Kwalikum Secondary School, in which students would normally be holding a drop-in basketball session over the summer.

“Hopefully it’s something that’s going to get resolved sooner than later,” said a Ballenas student who asked his name not be used in this story. “They’ve been trying to figure it out for a while and we hope, for the sake of having our coach back, that it gets figured out soon.”

While Conn has been unable to take part in preparations for the season, plenty of volunteers have stepped forward in his absence to try and make sure the team is in the best condition it can be when coach Conn can return to active duty.

“We’ve been very lucky to have all of these people around come out and help us,” the student said.

“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t even be out here practising at all, so it’s been a blessing in disguise, for sure.”

With no sign in sight of an agreement being reached in the collective bargaining, there is concern about the impact this could have on high school sports.

“It’s tough because we just don’t know what’s going on,” the student said.

“It would be nice to know if we’re going to be starting on time, if we’re going to even have a football season or not, but we just don’t know. It’s really frustrating and I know that I’m not the only one that feels that way.”

The school year is set to begin on September 2 and but if the beginning of the school year is delayed, it could leave a lot of teams in the dark as they wait to hear the fate of what could be their last chance to play for their high school team, no matter what the sport may be.

“Let’s hope they come up with something last minute, otherwise it’s going to be a big let down for us and we really don’t want that to happen.”

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