Sports

New era in high school sports

By Bernie Puchalski, St. Catharines Standard

The newly-created Niagara Catholic Athletic Association, which split with the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association this spring, staged its first-ever competition this week.

The newly-created Niagara Catholic Athletic Association, which split with the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association this spring, staged its first-ever competition this week.

High school sports history was made Monday afternoon at the Port Colborne Country Club.

 

The newly-created Niagara Catholic Athletic Association, which split with the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association this spring, staged its first-ever competition; a qualifying tournament for next week’s Zone 3 and 4 golf tournaments.

Tournament convenor Stefi Markovich said there was a sense of history being made Monday.

“It was a fitting opportunity for all the Catholic schools to be playing together,” she said. “It’s not something we ever had the opportunity to do before. It was an overall positive experience and everyone had a lot of fun.”

The main result of the split into the two associations is that it has added another level as teams move towards Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championships.

In golf, the NCAA hosted its golf tournament Monday in Port Colborne and the NRHSAA held its zone qualifying tournament Monday at Twenty Valley. Qualifiers from both associations advanced to the Zone 3 qualifier Sept. 26 at Port Colborne and the Zone 4 tournament Sept. 26 at Twenty Valley. The qualifiers from the zone events advance to the SOSSA championship Oct. 3 at Twenty Valley. Under the old system, Catholic and public school golfers would play together at zone and advance to SOSSA.

“This format actually provides student/athletes an extra opportunity to compete, thus making it a more dynamic season,” Markovich said. “They way I see it, every opportunity to compete is a gift.”

In cross country, the NCAA will hold its zone qualifying meet Oct. 13 at Firemen’s Park in Niagara Falls and the NRHSAA’s zone qualifier will be a day earlier. Runners advance to the Zone 3 and 4 championships Oct. 18 at Firemen’s Park and the SOSSA championships Oct. 27 at Firemen’s Park. Under the old system, public and Catholic runners would compete in a combined Zone 3/4 championship and move on to SOSSA.

The two sports association’s have figured SOSSA qualification out for golf, tennis and cross country and now they have to turn their attention to other sports.

“Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is so busy with everything else happening. To try to get everyone on the same page is tough,” NRHSAA athletic coordinator Rina Rode said.

Rode was retained in her role as NRHSAA coodinator as well as three league convenors.

Deciding to remain within the NRHSAA were Confederation from Conseil de District du Centre Sud-Ouest, Jean Vanier from Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre, and, Great Lakes Christian College, Heritage Christian Collegiate, Niagara Christian Community of Schools and Smithville Christian High School from independent boards.

Rode’s counterpart in the NCAA is Dino Germano. The long-time high school coach and a former phys-ed head at Saint Paul in Dufferin-Peel and Lakeshore Catholic has been in the position as NCAA convenor since September. He spends half his day teaching physical education at Lakeshore Catholic and half the day fulfilling his convenor’s duties.

His duties are scheduling, heading up the transfer committee, organizing coaches meetings, working with the chairs of physical education, helping formulate the association’s constitution, gathering eligibility sheets and so on.

“It’s very similar to the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association except on a smaller scale,” Germano said.

Most of his duties started in September,

“There was a little bit of prep work done, but a lot of the work was done by the eight program chairs in June,” he said. “Other people provided the information for me and I took the information and moved ahead with it.”

The biggest challenge he has faced is getting people comfortable with the NCAA’s website (www.ncaa.ca) and getting things uploaded to the site.

“It glitches,” Germano said.

The other main issue is finding enough football referees. There’s only four officiating crews available each day and both associations had to work together to make things work.

“If anyone is looking for a part-time job, it would be good to get into football officiating,” Germano said.

In the NRHSAA, senior football is divided into two divisions. Division 1 consists of Ridgeway-Crystal Beach (with Fort Erie players), Centennial, A.N. Myer, Sir Winston Churchill, Stamford and Westlane. Ridgeway-CB is in Division 1 in anticipation of it combining with Fort Erie to form one school for the 2017-18 school year.

Division 2 is made up of Governor Simcoe, St. Catharines Collegiate, Thorold, South Lincoln and Eden.

Division 2 teams will play each other once and South Lincoln, Thorold and St. Catharines Collegiate will play for the Division 2 championship. Simcoe and Eden will then play each other in a final game.

In Division 1, the teams play each other once and it’s proposed, but not finalized, that the top team at the end of the regular season leaves the league to play the best Catholic team for a berth in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association bowl playdowns,

The four remaining top teams would then advance to the NRHSAA Division 1 semifinals. The one team that misses the playoffs may play an exhibition game against either Eden or Governor Simcoe.

In NCAA senior football, Saint Paul, Saint Michael, Denis Morris, Holy Cross, St. Francis. Notre Dame, Lakeshore Catholic and Blessed Trinity are all in the same league. What happens at the end of the season, has yet to be finalized. It’s proposed that the top two teams after the regular season will play a game to determines who goes on to play the NRHSAA representative in the bowl playdowns. It’s also proposed the losing team in the NCAA game would then play the winner of a game between the third- and fourth-place team in the league to determine a NCAA senior champion.

“None of this is going to be done until we work out our draft proposal with the NRHSAA,” Germano said. “There is something in writing and it has gone back and forth, but we have to make sure we agree on it.

“That’s going to happen in the next couple of days.”

The NRHSAA retained its appeals and transfers committee and the NCAA also created its own committee. Any appeals of decisions made by those NRHSAA and NCAA committees are decided at the SOSSA level as in the past.