ACAC cancels winter season due to pandemic

·3 min read

Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald sports@lethbridgeherald.com

The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference winter season has been put on ice.

With the COVID-19 pandemic not showing any signs of heading to the sidelines, the Kodiaks, along with several provincial post-secondary institutions, announced on Wednesday the decision to forgo competing in the 2021 ACAC winter season for basketball, volleyball and futsal.

Kodiaks manager of athletics and recreation services Todd Caughlin said it was a tough call, but athlete and faculty safety in the time of a pandemic couldn’t be overlooked.

“Obviously it’s not the news that any of us wanted to hear, but the bottom line is it’s about the safety and the health and well-being of our student athletes, but the college as well,” he said. “So we have to consider all of those things. It’s just another ‘Welcome to 2020’. It’s a decision we were hoping we were going to be able to avoid, but we’re going to stay strong and finds alternative and creative ways to keep our athletes training and just start preparing for next year already.”

Though things can change from day-to-day in the continued dealings with COVID, Caughlin said the Kodiaks athletes will continue to train as per usual.

“It’s something that’s going to be a challenge and the coaches are going to have to come up with creative ways focus perhaps more on development this year compared to actual competing. We really dig deep on that side of coaching and it’s good for coaches to have some professional development, too. That’s the direction we’re going to go. But we’re going stay together as a department and make the best of it.”

Caughlin credited the Kodiaks athletes for working through yet another setback after the ACAC fall season was cancelled.

“Our student-athletes have been absolutely incredible,” he said. “I am so proud of each and every one of them just because of the challenges and the continual changes we’ve had to throw in because of processes and protocols — all required — and they’ve stepped up. They’ve made the most of it and I couldn’t be more proud of how each and every one of our coaches and student athletes have responded.

“This is another bump in the road and it’s going to affect some more than others, but I think the college has done an amazing job of putting sports services in place along with the athletic department for student athletes if they are having some issues and struggling a little bit more. But the bottom line is that we stay together as a group. We are all Kodiaks and we are one, big team.”

The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association announced student- athletes will not lose any athletic eligibility this season.

As well, Kodiaks student-athletes will receive all scholarships and student-awards they are eligible for during a typical season.

“Those are very important pieces,” said Caughlin. “Eligibility is weighing on the minds of a lot of student-athletes. But then again so are the scholarships. Every student-athlete that is intended to receive a scholarship, will.”

Despite Wednesday’s announcement, one small light on the horizon is the possibility for some ACAC sports to proceed in the spring, a decision which will be evaluated on a semester-by-semester basis.

“If there’s one thing this whole COVID pandemic has shown us it’s you do have to learn to take it day-by-day and we will,” said Caughlin.

“Being a student-athlete, you have to have a bit of that positive optimism. We just have to reset our focus and start doing what we can to make the best of this situation now and start preparing for the future.”

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Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald