Players, coaches left in limbo about when football could return to Waterloo Region high schools

With the pandemic putting some sports on the sidelines at school, some students like Austin Badger have looked at other ways to play the sport they love.

Badger, a student at Galt Collegiate Institute, joined Cambridge Lions Football, a rep team that extended its season to offer students the opportunity to stay on top of their game until local school boards decide on if football will return.

While the grade 12 student said he would have enjoyed playing one last season with his high school football team, the uncertainty around it happening is not worth the wait.

“I’m hoping for them to come out and confirm they’re not going to do it," Badger said. "I think we’ve got one of, if not the most talented teams going into this league."

Jackson Yanchus, the head coach of the senior varsity team, said their goal is to keep students in the sport.

“Obviously everyone is hoping for our kids to play in high school. If that’s not available, we’re doing the best we can… and play in a competitive league and give these guys an experience that they’re missing,” said Yanchus.

Both Waterloo Region’s public or Catholic school boards have not yet offered any timelines on the return of sports but say plans are underway.

“We believe we are in a position to offer extra-curriculars and athletics, but there will be Operational Guidelines that govern participation," Loretta Notten, Waterloo Catholic District School Board’s director of education, said in a statement. "We are just finalizing some details (including a final consultation with Public Health).”

In a statement, a spokesperson with the Waterloo Region District School Board said "staff are currently working to develop protocols for the safe return to interschool sports. We are consulting with public health, other school boards, as well as sports associations.”

Steve Amis, the president of Cambridge Lions football, said it feels like they are left in limbo with non-answers.

“The parents, players, everybody is like, why can’t somebody say yes we’re playing or we’re not? That’s really what it comes down to,” said Amis.

Some football players are looking to take their game to the next level and play for a university or college team in the United States. Amis said they wanted to give them the opportunity to be scouted for scholarships.

Jacob Kaminski, a grade 12 student at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School, who’s playing for the Cambridge Lions, said he is looking forward to the rest of the season.

“It’s great, it means a lot that the coaches are coming out here, spending their valuable time with us and helping us get better to reach our dreams," he said.