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Like all post-secondary institutions, how COVID-19 affects the sports programs at these schools in the fall remains very much up in the air.
And that is certainly the case for Providence University College at Otterburne and their highly successful Pilots sports programs and college teams.
As far as Providence is concerned, athletic director Scott Masterson said in a way they were fortunate that when the college shut down in March, all of their sports had completed their seasons, some having just played in playoff games days earlier.
Some of the CCAA national championships in basketball and volleyball were either underway or were about to get started when everything was cancelled, but Providence did not have any teams competing in those national championships.
However, the men’s volleyball team, came within a point of advancing to nationals as they lost in the third and final set to CMU in the MCAC finals.
This was also at the same time that the U of M Bisons were ready to host the U Sports National Men’s Volleyball Championships, with all the competing teams from across the country already in Winnipeg, before it was cancelled the night before it got underway.
Meanwhile, at Providence, Masterson says they are still planning and recruiting for the coming season for all eight of their teams, which includes men’s and women’s teams in basketball, futsal, soccer and volleyball.
In addition to the Pilots teams competing in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC), most of their teams continue to also compete in National Christian Colleges Athletic Association (NCCAA) in the U.S.
Here in Manitoba, the Pilots compete in the MCAC against teams from Red River College, St. Boniface University College, Canadian Mennonite University, Assiniboine College in Brandon and Brandon University.
Just last year, the MCAC joined the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), making Providence teams now eligible to compete in the CCAA national championships.
Masterson is also now on the board of directors of the CCAA and thus part of the discussions nationally how things might look forward in the coming year, including player eligibilities if there is not a season next year.
"It remains a big question as to what’s going to happen in the fall, "said Masterson, "we are just following the provincial government guidelines and framework as to how we can and will proceed."
"For the time being we are planning for as normal a scenario as possible with our sports programs for next year, and then we will make adjustments as necessary as to what our season might look like as things develop through the summer."
"Manitoba is a little different than some other parts of the country who have been affected worse than us so we are hopeful to that we will be able compete against schools in our province." But he says all sports are different as far as physical contact is concerned so all those things will be also have to be considered.
At any rate, Masterson says pre-season and exhibition trips to Alberta and elsewhere will probably not occur this fall as well as the travel to the U.S.
The Junior Pilot Club Volleyball programs, which run all winter, have also had to be shut down. This program includes several teams at different age levels that culminate their club season with the Volleyball Manitoba provincials in May, which of course were also cancelled.
Another big impact of the shutdown at Providence is the extremely popular sports camps they run at the school during the summer months in volleyball, basketball and soccer.
Masterson says a decision on whether the camps can be held in some form this summer, which provide an important revenue stream, will be made by the end of this month.
The camps are held for students in grades 7-12, with instruction from the colleges coaching staff from their respective sports.
Meanwhile, Masterson says as far as the fall season is concerned, normally students would return to the college in late August, which is when some of the training camps would start in soccer and in volleyball, but he says for now it is just a waiting game.