Yukon students are set to take part in a variety of sports events in the coming school year as many students head back to class on Aug. 22.
The Yukon Schools’ Athletic Association (YSAA) is responsible for planning school sports events in the territory during the academic year.
Each school has a long list of sports programs they offer. Basketball, volleyball, baseball, table tennis, soccer, track and athletics are popular, with YSSAA organizing specific tournaments throughout the year.
Charlie Feht, who runs the sports school program and coaches several teams at F.H. Collins Secondary School, said the school would offer the usual basketball, volleyball, and track and field programs, among others they offer every year.
The school will also have badminton and Arctic sports such as the high kick, 2-foot high kick, 1-foot high kick, kneel jump, triple jump, arm pull, head pull and knuckle hop.
There’s also the possibility of a soccer program.
“There has been a little bit of momentum trying to get a high school soccer tournament going on again,” Feht said, noting that he is hopeful the school will have the sport back in the spring of 2024.
Last year, rugby was also introduced to the school. Feht said it’s a newly introduced sport to the territory and the first year any Yukon school had a rugby team.
In May last year, 30 students from F.H. Collins travelled to Calgary to participate in the Clearwater Cup rugby tournament. It is the largest high school rugby tournament in the country. Three F.H. Collins teams — senior girls and the junior and senior boys — competed with 78 other schools from around Calgary and the surrounding Alberta area.
The senior girls team won two out of five games. Feht said he was proud of their performances because it was their first time playing the sport at a major competition.
“So, going up against a bunch of kids from Alberta who have been playing for a long time was really amazing,” he said. “We also sent our senior and junior boys team down, and they got some really good experience. Unfortunately, they didn’t win any games there. But they got some good experience.”
He said they will be travelling to Calgary again in May 2024 for the tournament, and he is hopeful they will make a bigger splash.
“We will continue with the game this year and hope to expand the program into other schools like Porter Creek. The long-term goal is for that to be a permanent sport here just like the others like basketball and volleyball.”
The F.H. Collins’ sports school program has been running for 11 years. Feht said it’s been an interesting experience working with the students and he hopes to continue developing their talents.
“We are working with them to take their games to the next level and catering to Yukon kids to develop sports-specific skills,” he said.
Porter Creek Secondary School is also getting ready for the new year and the sports events that come with it.
Amy Vermeulen, a physical education teacher at the school, said the school would offer sports they have in the past, with volleyball and basketball among the main sports.
In the spring, Vermeulen said they would continue to bring student-athletes to the Superbirdie Inter-School Badminton Tournament, a track meet on May 30 and bring multiple teams to the softball tournament taking place on May 23.
“We also bring a group each year to the Arctic Sports Competition in November,” she said.
The school has also been running the Leadership Education and Athlete Development (LEAD) program for nearly a decade.
Vermeulen said the program has continued to evolve to focus on “using sport, leadership, strength and conditioning, First Nations traditional knowledge and physical education as the vehicle to help students maximize their physical and academic potential.”
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Secondary School athletic director Dwayne Stoker said the school will continue participating in events organized by the YSSA. However, this will be determined based on what is being offered and the number of students available to participate.
Stoker said the school has participated in volleyball, disc golf and baseball tournaments in previous academic years. The school has also offered soccer, archery, cross country, track and field, badminton and softball.
“We encourage students to participate as much as possible in organized sports events,” he said.
When the News asked about the school’s expectations from students participating in the sporting activities, Stoker said the most important thing is for the school to be well represented.
“They should have fun whether they win or lose and also be good competitors for the school,” he said.
The Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament takes place in late October. Stoker said the school would be sending students to participate and represent them.
YSSA president Jeff Cressman said the association runs a fully-packed sports calendar for schools in the territory and noted there is a representative from each school who sits on the planning of these sports events.
He told the News that a lot of preparations go into planning the sports schedule for each academic year, including figuring out teams to participate, venues, officials and finding volunteers, coaches and sponsors. He said the Yukon government also provides funding support to organize events.
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