UVic, Canada West planning for resumption of play in the fall

Plans have been formulated for balls to be bounced in CARSA gym and kicked at Centennial Stadium in the fall with the return of University of Victoria Vikes varsity sports.

Canada West announced its resumption of play proposal for the 2021-22 season during the conference’s virtual annual general meeting which concluded Wednesday. Play will be largely on a regional basis, but that’s fine with player and coaches.

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“Our guys just want to get out on the court and play competitive games,” said UVic men’s basketball coach Craig Beaucamp.

“We knew there was going to be a change in format to more regional play because of any lingering effects of the pandemic and also the financial impacts it caused. Those are two big factors. But at least we are planning to be playing.”

The change in format is for the 2021-22 season only. But Beaucamp said the change might have come, regardless, due to the bulkiness of Canada West.

“We have 17 schools from Victoria to Manitoba,” he noted.

“The conference is almost too big to have a balanced schedule. So we probably would have seen this coming, anyways. This could just be the impetus for it. I can see regional play staying permanent. The OUAA [Ontario University Athletic Association] has East and West divisions.”

UVic athletic director Clint Hamilton described it as “good decision making that affords the opportunity to have a season.”

“We are planning with optimism to have a season. Health and safety remains the No. 1 priority.”

Hamilton said regional play will be easier for some sports than others.

“We have seven Canada West schools in B.C. that play basketball and soccer and at a high level. And it is cost effective,” he said.

Canada West football and hockey teams are much fewer, however, so cross-provincial travel will be required for those sports.

“Each sport is dealing with its own reality,” said Hamilton.

UVic men’s and women’s soccer will play two games each against the six other teams in B.C. The Vikes men’s and women’s basketball teams will play the six other B.C. teams three times each.

Two double-round robin tournaments will be hosted by UVic and UBC in field hockey with four games over three days. UVic in rugby will play mostly games against B.C. teams with one game against an out-of-province team travelling here.

There will be playoffs in all sports, beginning regionally, and advancing to conference wide.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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