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Leisure Guide woes, and other whining

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Sam, I’m frustrated.

And yes, this is about activity at a school, so it is so appropriate for me to rant in an education blog, and quit interrupting me when I’m trying to whine.

I finally get through to the city website this morning to register for the next session of adult volleyball at Carpathia School, I have the Leisure Guide open in front of me, I type in the information, and the city robots tell me that the program does not exist.

I try putting in the course number, the facility, the day of the week it runs, the dates the course covers, the activity, all the options which the city’s system offers me, and none of it works.

So I emailed the 311 address, and the automated reply tells me it will take 48 hours to get a response to my problem.

But 311 emailed back barely an hour later to my Hotmail, to say they’re looking into it, but the program is being offered as published and everything looks fine on their end, so I should phone 311 and register.... as if anyone can get through.

So then the online system lets me in a second time, and this time three of the four schools offering adult volleyball have disappeared from the list of facilities, including Carpathia.

And finally, around 2 p.m., I see that there’s an alert saying that the system has let me in for a third time, and this time everything goes fine and I’m registered. So you have my money, and the other registrants get to be saddled for 16 hours with an old guy who’s never played organized volleyball in his life and whose vertical is in single digits even measured in centimeters.


And on the same rant, last week at Carpathia we’re having the final volleyball of the previous session, and one of the people is in CUPE 500 and facing a strike (which since seems to have been averted, which you can read about here), and there’s talk whether people will register for the next volleyball session.

I point out that the city could be on strike, and that I would not cross picket lines to register if the workers are out.

And back come several replies, in that tone that young people reserve for addressing old people whom they consider to be morons, just register online if you don’t want to cross a picket line.

Don’t they teach about the Winnipeg General Strike in school any more?

On to other topics...

I’ve ranted numerous times about the people who allege that I never write anything about good kids doing good things in good schools.

So there’s today’s story about the new native studies course at J.H. Bruns Collegiate, and the only reaction I get this morning is from someone giving me grief and telling me it’s inappropriate to refer to students, some of whom are adults, as kids.

So I re-read my story several times, and the only time the word ‘kids’ appears in my story is in a direct quote from the teacher.

By the way, irritated reader, the teacher’s name is Marla Pott, not Maria Potts.

And moving on again...

Quite the soccer match I had Saturday morning at U of M, nine-year-old girls with the bleachers absolutely packed, and the parents of the losing team bellowing at me constantly. At one point, the coach comes on the field to argue a call, and I ordered him off the field.

Halftime, and one father leans way over the railing and is screaming at me, ripping me up one side and down the other, so I veer off course to go over to tell the coach to get the referee liaison and get this guy under control or he’ll have to leave, while his nine-year-old daughter watches what is colloquially referred to as the walk of shame. So the father skedaddles before I can point him out to the coach.

End of the match, the coach comes over and tells me that he’s told his parents that it’s unacceptable for them to yell at the referee, whereupon he starts telling me what a crummy job I did and arguing call upon call.

I just walked away.

And WYSA and the Manitoba Soccer Association want to take competition and playoffs and championships out of soccer for little kids? Gosh, whyever why? I reported what happened to WYSA, not because this isn’t anything I haven’t experienced before, or worse, and not because I get all distraught about adults freaking out on me, but because when outdoor soccer starts in a few weeks, this coach and these parents will be unloading on inexperienced referees likely aged 13 and 14 who are assigned to the youngest recreational level matches.

And your children don’t deserve to be treated like that.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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