Athletes and coaches mourn as OUA, OCAA cancel season

Ontario University Athletics and the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association have both cancelled their seasons to March 31, 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that no campus athletics will take place this academic year.

Extended cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic means no athletics for 2020-21 academic year

The OUA's cancelled winter season means that the Windsor Lancers will not play this academic year. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
The Windsor athletics community is lamenting the loss of campus sports for the 2020-21 academic year, as both Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and the Ontario Colleges Athletics Association (OCAA) cancelled all sports programing to March 31, 2021.

Ontario university and college athletics are the latest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the OUA and OCAA said rising case numbers in the province made it clear that athletes could not take to the rink, court or field this year.

Both organizations made their decision based on provincial public health guidelines.

"While we would love nothing more than to see our student-athletes back on the field of play and participating in OUA-sanctioned competition during the 2nd Term, we are not yet at a place where that can occur safely," said Gord Grace, OUA President and CEO, in a press release.

"After extensive contingency planning and collaborating with our members, the reality is that there are far too many obstacles to allow the OCAA to operate while providing a safe and quality varsity experience for our student-athletes," said Nathan McFadden, OCAA President, in a press release.

Lost season for Windsor athletes, coaches

The cancellation of the winter term season means this academic year is a write-off for athletes at the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and Lambton College.

"The student athletes that I'm absolutely gutted for are those who would graduate this year, and who may never get a chance to put on a uniform and compete on the game surfaces again," Mike Havey University of Windsor athletic director, told Windsor Morning. "It's really a sad day for them."

Jade Samping, who plays midfield for the Windsor Lancers women's soccer team, is one of those students in her senior year — though the cancelled season means she still has two years of eligibility. She hopes to get back on the pitch another year while in graduate school. 

"Obviously it was very unfortunate when the season was cancelled, but for safety purposes I thought it was extremely reasonable that they made the decision," she said. 

Mike Havey, the athletic director at the University of Windsor, says athletes and coaches are trying to keep busy in spite of the cancelled season. (CBC )
Havey, who sits on the OUA's board, had to deliver the news to the university's coaches.

"It was a sombre mood," Havey said. "I think it will take some time for it to sink in."

Havey added that the coaches are still fully employed in spite of the cancelled season and the university's reduced budget.

Athletes and coaches are keeping busy with modified practices, which are still running at the university on a reduced schedule and in accordance with health guidelines. Coaches are also still recruiting for upcoming seasons.

"I think it's good for the mental health of the student athletes involved," Havey said.

Samping agrees. Though the team can't play official OUA games, they've still been able to break in the newly redone soccer pitch at the university.

"We were lucky enough to actually get a chance to play and train on the new field, which is really exciting and it was super nice to get out there," she said.

Havey said that while the OUA's decision cancels the scheduled season, the university is open to organizing exhibition matches in the new year.


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