Ethan Finnigan had hoped to play for the UVic Vikes. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Ethan Finnigan had hoped to play for the UVic Vikes. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

What was a tough year for Ethan Finnigan is now made worse as he joins hundreds of talented Grade 12 athletes trying to figure out how to compete for a spot at university next year.

Last week, Canada’s national governing body for competitive university athletics, U Sports, further delayed winter championships and has already cancelled the fall competitive season. Even the Vikes’ golf season, which was believed to have been one of the sports that could work, was cancelled before its Oct. 2 tournament.

Questions linger not only about if, or when, sports teams will play, but also on the eligibility of players.

It makes it that much harder for athletes like Finnigan, who is expected to be a difference-maker in club soccer this year playing in the premier division of the senior men’s Vancouver Island Soccer League.

The talented Grade 12 soccer player missed the bulk of Oak Bay’s Grade 11 soccer season with a broken collar bone.

“I was playing some of my best soccer for Oak Bay High when I got injured in the [2018] Island finals and missed provincials,” Finnigan said. “I had hoped to play for the Vikes… I definitely want to play at the university level… I don’t know what will happen right now.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19 forces Vikes athletes off the field this fall

Both University of Victoria and local high school teams are training, but not allowed to compete. It’s still unknown as to whether this season will burn a season of playing eligibility for U Sports athletes. Case in point, the UVic Vikes women’s hockey team is on the cusp of a three-peat dynasty, a strong cast assembled around 2018 U Sports national field hockey player of the year Anna Mollenhauer.

“The Grade 12 year is often a huge one for athletes,” said Oak Bay High athletic director Rich Fast.

It’s not only the development of the athlete’s skills, but also the memories made, Fast noted.

“Think about the career of Steve Nash,” Fast said. “His only championships are from Grade 12, when he won the provincial soccer and basketball championships [with St. Michaels University School].”

It’s gutting for those high school students like three-sport athlete Anna Friesen. The Grade 12 Oak Bay High student competes at a high level in soccer, volleyball and track and field, but is focused solely on academics post-secondary.

“It’s a major disappointment,” Friesen said. “From Grade 9, you work towards the Grade 12 year. For many of us this is the best you’ll be if you’re not going on to play at university/college level. You mature and strengthen your body, and I don’t get that chance to test myself one final time against people going [to compete at] university.”

Another wrinkle is that youth club sports are competing as they are under a different umbrella. However, not all leagues are able to run as usual, such as B.C. School Sports.

It creates an unequal opportunity as youth basketball’s elite rely on high school sports for recruitment. Vikes women’s soccer coach Traci David relies on live scouting, including the B.C. Soccer Premier League, to see the best play the best in B.C.

READ ALSO: ‘It sucks,’ Oak Bay High athletes accept lost sports season

However, that league is limited to cohorts of four teams right now. Mainland teams aren’t visiting here (at least not yet) and taking the ferry to watch the Mainland’s top U18 talent is currently not an option for David.

“The majority of elite players are in that league,” she said. “Normally I’d be taking trips there to watch but I can’t. I can’t come back and then isolate a few days. I have [Vikes] training to lead.”

On top of that U Sports has implemented a moratorium of sorts on recruiting with a ban on prospective students visiting a university campus.

“Normally we would invite student-athletes to visit the campus,” David said. “They have lunch with the current athletes, meet the academic advisors, and we create a nice little package for them that they are missing right now.”

Under normal circumstances, David said the best of U Sports level athletes would already have signed their commitment for 2021 by now. But they haven’t. Many are waiting.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. (Don Descoteau/News Staff) 
Shopping in the evening in downtown Victoria can be a good time to go, with relatively few people in store and plenty of room to physically distance, as this photo from Government Street shows. But thanks to a new program from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, many downtown businesses will soon be able to provide free delivery for customers across the region. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Downtown Victoria businesses offered free delivery for regional customers

DVBA launches ‘Downtown Delivers’ program Dec. 7

Victoria police seized drugs, knives, two firearms and ammunition off a man early Nov. 4. (Victoria Police Department)
VicPD makes early morning drug and weapons seizure

Officers seize drugs, knives, two firearms and ammunition

Saanich police reported a crash on the Pat Bay Highway near Haliburton Road impacting southbound traffic Friday afternoon. (Google Maps)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway clear following two-vehicle crash

Two drivers were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

Victoria police seek witnesses after a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on a BC Transit bus. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police seek witnesses after teen sexually assaulted on Victoria bus

Man followed a teen onto a bus from a stop at Douglas and Fort streets

The public will start to weigh in next month on the possible future uses of Oak Bay Lodge. In the meantime, a request to the province by the City of Victoria to intervene and allow use of at least a portion of the closed facility as temporary shelter space awaits an answer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment planning continues, request for temporary use awaits answer

Public consultation on future of CRD-owned site begins next month

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of paymens for household incomes up to $175,000

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster kids

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

Lake Trail Middle School in Courtenay has closed again due to a threat Friday (Dec 4). File photo
Island middle school closed for the second time in a week due to threat

On Nov. 26, Lake Trail Middle School was closed for a day while a similar incident occurred.

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Most Read