Saturday was supposed to be clean-up day for the student athletes at D.P. Todd Secondary School.
They planned to scour the fields of their schoolyard and neighbouring Heritage Elementary School to pick up garbage and help residential homeowners near the school rake up their leaves. They didn’t factor on winter weather burying their community project plan under a blanket of snow. A fresh dusting of snow Friday and the 10-centimetre dump left a week ago have cancelled the outdoor cleanup.
“One of the core covenants of our athletic department is character-building and one thing is giving back, being able to help the community and that’s what we’re hoping to provide,” said D.P. Todd athletic director Jon Lawrence. “We were going to send teams out into different areas. “(But) we can’t see the garbage.”
The D.P. Todd Trojans Grade 9 volleyball team will be put to work with some indoor cleaning/painting duties Saturday afternoon at the Knights of Columbus Community Hall in College Heights. There’s also the owner of a large acreage on Cranbrook Hill who has some tasks in mind for the team.
The pandemic has shut down all varsity athletic competition in the province and no high school teams are traveling for games or events. Schools are divided into educational cohorts and athletes are allowed to compete with and against each other as long as they are from the same cohort. Provincial health rules require them to remain within that group and they are not allowed to play as teams other cohorts, although there are some exceptions.
“You can kind of get out of your cohort if you can maintain social/physical distance and/or you wear a mask, which for volleyball isn’t too hard to do,” said Lawrence. “They are allowed to share equipment as long as it is sanitized. In a game we don’t do any kind of blocking or hitting drills, to avoid face-to-face contact.”
At D.P. Todd, volleyball scrimmages and 3-on-3 competitions and players are segregated by grade to minimize group sizes. The difference this year is male and female athletes have a rare opportunity to play together.
“It’s actually pretty neat, and for the most part they enjoy it,” said Lawrence. “They get a chance to hang out with each other, which boys and girls generally like to do, and it gives a different look to their play.”
Outdoor cross country running practices have been ongoing since September and boys soccer training is happening to replace the usual fall interschool leagues, which have all been canceled because of COVID. In the absence of a provincial championship, the runners will be taking part in a provincial virtual run, a competition for 3.5-kilometre and five-kilometre distances, which will involve students at other schools in B.C.
Lawrence said the Trojans basketball teams will likely take part in a community day of shoveling snow during the winter, while the spring sports teams – girls soccer, track and field – will get involved in some labour-intensive clean-up projects when spring comes around.