On behalf of School Sports Newfoundland & Labrador Varsity Program, we would like to welcome you back to another school year. Obviously, this particular school year is going to come with a number of unique challenges as we navigate how to play school sports under the various COVID-19 restrictions. Like most of our lives under this new normal, we will have to do so with a number of modifications and compromises, but we at SSNL are determined to do whatever we can to help make sure that an extra curricular sport experience can still be competitive and fun in the current environment.
For the start of the 2020-21 school year, only outdoor sports have been approved by theNewfoundland & Labrador Department of Health and NLESD. Indoor Sports will be an ongoing review and we will all be notified if and when they can resume. SSNL has created a number of potential modified athletic calendars to be ready for any future decisions and are confident that if indoor sports are approved in any capacity in the near future then we can have participation in most every sport.
The fall Outdoor Sports that SSNL will currently have available on our 2020-21 athletic calendar are:
- Girls and Boys Slo-Pitch
- Girls and Boys Outdoor Soccer
There are also a number of Foundation Sports that can be played and in light of less sports and tournaments currently able to be played, we encourage schools to make new efforts to participate in these sports.
- Co-Ed Slo-Pitch
- Mountain Biking
- Outdoor Ultimate Frisbee.
See the SSNL Handbook section to see how Foundation Sports work and each Sports technical standards can be found here: https://www.schoolsportsnl.ca/high-school/sports/
-Under the restrictions of having to limit sport participation to the boundaries of NL Health Regions, the SSNL Varsity Program has created a model of Sectional Tournaments. These Sectionals aim to find a suitable medium between the cost and travel feasibility of Qualifier Tournaments and the overall experience of Provincials.
-Sectional tournaments can often be the size between a typical Qualifier and Provincials. As this would likely be the only SSNL tournament a school would play in that gender and sport it could be one where they get more games to play and still have a great tournament experience. There would be a Sectionals Banner to play for at each tournament and all the same team and individual medals would be provided as well.
-Although at this time Provincials are not permitted, SSNL is prepared for the possibility of a Provincials in the spring for any Fall Sport that has the interest and if restrictions relax enough for health authorities to permit them to happen. In this scenario,Sectionals would have acted as the Qualifiers and a Provincial tournament can, in fact, take place as long as it can fit into the remaining athletic calendar. This possibility also puts more competitive merit on the Sectional tournaments.
-Sectional tournament dates are flexible. SSNL Varsity has provided set weekend dates for the tournaments to work from and planned them towards the end of the fall so in the case that schools cannot find another set of dates prior to that maximizes participation, there is one where it will be played. As we are eliminating a number of tournaments from our calendar by not having both Qualifiers and Provincials in each sport, schools of each tournament can arrange to play prior to the set weekend listed in the above calendar as long as all participating teams agree, otherwise you must stick to the approved weekend. We do not recommend targeting weekends after the approved dates in order to play your Sectional as these tournaments are already placed in mid to late October and the future weekends may be needed for weather cancellations already. You can, however, contact the Varsity Coordinator for special permission to move your Sectional Tournament to a later date should that be the only way your tournament can be played.
-Contact your Regional Director (in the case of Avalon West contact [email protected] until the position is filled) if you are interested in participating in or hosting a Sectional tournament. Regional Directors will work with schools to shape tournament structure to maximize participation.
-There will be no declaration deadlines applied to Sectional Tournaments, however, there will be a Sectional Registration deadline 1 week prior to any tournament date. All schools must still register on the SSNL website.
-Schools that were currently set to host Provincials in their gender and sport will be given precedence to host their Sectional Tournament. All other hosting of Sectional tournaments will fall under the normal Regional rotation format in consultation with theRegional Directors of any participating schools.
-Foundation Sports are already not constructed to have set dates and are always created in consultation with your Regional Director who, once a host comes forward, can determine interest in the region to form a tournament. Once participating teams agree on a date(s) then SSNL is notified by the Regional Director and an awards package and any office supports will be provided
COVID Sport Rules
Regarding COVID safety protocols, all SSNL Sports will follow the Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Sport Organization Return to Play Guidelines for each sport, as well as, any additional measures required by the Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Health, NLESD, and/or Individual Schools. All participating school teams MUST adhere to these rules and restrictions.
- PSO Return To Play Documents for the SSNL Outdoor Sports can be found on each SSNL sports page. https://www.schoolsportsnl.ca/high-school/sports/
- NL Department of Health Sport Guidance Document can be found here: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/information-sheets-for-businesses-and-workplaces/sport-guidance/
- NLESD Protocol for Extra Curricular Activities can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TI4lw8Lt2j3HRjN_CHgcYwu4GRDnJ3Sgy-l4ZASqLJQ/view
Esports (Electronic Sports)
There has never been a better time to look at alternative ways to compete than this challenging time of living with COVID-19. SSNL has been researching the possibility of adding Esports to the SSNL Foundation Sports Catalogue.
Esports is an inclusive, co-ed, STEM-infused activity and is one of the fastest growing sports in the world including having a number of highly followed professional leagues. Like traditional SSNL sports, Esports has practices, leagues, tournaments, warm-ups, etc…. and also depends heavily on sportsmanship, teamwork, and competition.
We will be in touch soon with much more information on Esports, like game titles, tech requirements, tournament structure, coach and player resources, etc… as we explore the viability of a pilot program during this school year. If you think your school might be interested in participating or know of a teacher or students that are eager to get involved, please reach out to [email protected]
In light of the uncertainty of school start up and when sports could resume, there will be no SSNL Varsity resources printed and distributed to start the school year. All the major Varsity resources (SSNL Handbook, Convenor Manual, Technical Standards, Athletic Calendar, etc…) can be found on the SSNL web site.