2021 CSSRA Championships cancelled
For the second straight spring, the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association championships have fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, it was announced the 75th Annual Championship Regatta and all associated 75th anniversary celebrations scheduled for June 4-6 had been cancelled.
“This decision was made following extensive review and as part of the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association’s role in society’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its’ variants,” the CSSRA board of directors release said. “We have not taken this decision lightly. However, our decision to cancel the 2021 championship regatta was made to safeguard the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, school administrators, umpires, families in our rowing community, and all our hundreds of valued volunteers involved in the staging and running of our championship regatta.”
The 2022 regatta will be staged June 3-5.
“We encourage all in the rowing family to adhere to government requirements on physical distancing and guidance on good hygiene during this difficult time,” the release read. “This complicated situation reminds us that we are all part of a broader society with a responsibility to look out for one another. That is what the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association will continue to do, and we are grateful for your understanding.”
Regatta chair Ken Campbell said the decision to cancel was easier this year compared to 2020.
“Last year it was ‘We’ve got to do this.’ This year we know what is going on and it’s not a tough call to make,” he said.
The decision was based on a whole bunch of factors.
“We don’t know where we are provincially on standards and what we are going to be allowed to do. The border is still closed. We don’t know about interprovincial travel,” Campbell said. “And one of the biggest concerns I and our other board members have is three-quarters of our volunteer base is all in that age category that is susceptible to the virus. Without people having vaccines, I am not going to put them in that position.”
While necessary, Campbell knows the cancellation has ramifications.
“It is tough on the sport, it is tough on the kids and it is tough on the clubs trying to maintain programs and keep people active,” he said. “But it’s just a pandemic.”
There was no significance to cancelling this week.
“Our original plan was to wait until the end of March like we did last year but last weekend talking to a couple of our board members, I said, ‘Why are we waiting?’ It’s not going to change drastically from now until June.”
And locally, none of the high schools will be on the water any time soon.
“It was going to be a tough go to get a program running, not just for St. Catharines but in every city that has a high school program,” he said. “There could have been a lot of underground rowing going on and we don’t want that.”
Campbell is confident the Schoolboy regatta can roll with the punches and return to competition when it is safe to do so.
“I hope so but a lot of this is going to fall back on all the local rowing clubs,” he said. “We will do our promotional stuff but they are the ones who are going to need to get the athletes involved after a two-year hiatus out of the school system.”
That two-year hiatus may result in some changes to the regatta.
“We are going to have to look at out scheduling of events and we may have to change some of our events too.” Campbell said. “There are Grade 9s and 10s this year who haven’t rowed and they will be going into Grade 11. They will be coming in as senior athletes but as novices so we will have to do something that captures those athletes and gives them an experience.
“We might have to do that for the first couple of years.”