Teachers' strike will impact AA provincials

Local organizers 'don't know how many teams are coming'

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
March 2, 2012 01:00 AM

The B.C. Teachers' Federation's strike next week will affect the provincial AA girls and boys basketball championships, but organizer Brian Peters says the tournament will run as planned.

The BCTF announced Thursday that public school teachers will be holding a three-day strike starting Monday. The provincial tournament runs Wednesday through March 10 at the Tournament Capital Centre and TRU Gym.

There are two major areas of concern for Peters - the fact that the majority of his volunteers are teachers, and also that most teams are coached by teachers.

It means that there is a real possibility that some teams won't make the trip to Kamloops for what usually is a 32-team event.

"I've talked to most of the coaches," Peters said Thursday before the tournament's news conference. "Some are incredibly conflicted, some are coming no matter what."

Students affected by the strike will return to classes on Thursday.

Peters said that 10 of the schools participating at provincials are private schools, so their teachers aren't part of the BCTF, while about five others have community coaches. The rest, should they choose to come, will have to get volunteers to lead the teams.

"We don't know how many teams are coming," Peters said. "We've already agreed that if a team doesn't show up . . . their opponent will receive a bye into the second round."

Paul Patterson, head coach of the Sa-Hali Sabres senior boys and an on-call teacher, declined to comment Thursday. Jody Vosper, head coach of Sa-Hali's girls, was hesitant to talk.

"I'm not really sure what's going to happen, and I'm not really wanting to talk," said Vosper, a full-time teacher at Sa-Hali. "It's unfortunate, the timing, but we don't really have a clear directive at this point in time. We've worked very hard all season, and we're hoping for the best."

Regardless of how many teams take part in provincials, the tournament won't run without volunteers, and that has Peters scratching his head.

A large chunk of Peters' volunteers - he figured about 75 per cent of the committee leaders are teachers - may miss part of the tournament.

"We have 15 teachers, maybe as many as 25, who are intimately involved in this tournament," Peters said. "We don't know yet what their involvement is going to be or what they'll be allowed to do."

Either way, Peters will make do. He has to.

"We're recruiting people now to fill in for the people who might not be able to participate fully," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see what the union will decide . . . but we're prepared to run it. TRU has really supported us by giving extra people."

The timing of the announcement is absolutely terrible for B.C. School Sports, which is scheduled to hold a number of provincial championships over the coming weeks. A note posted Thursday on the BCSS website read: "Update - All the remaining BCSS Winter Provincial Championships will go ahead as scheduled."

The provincial AAA girls basketball championship is scheduled to start Thursday in Vancouver, while the A tournament is to run at the same time in Prince George. The A boys tournament is scheduled for Thursday to March 10 at Chilliwack.

The provincial high school curling tournament also is scheduled to start Thursday in Dawson Creek.

"I'm a union person, but I fought the extra-curricular (activities) thing for 35 years," said Peters, a retired teacher. "My personal feeling is that extra-curricular should never be included, and I've said that in every meeting I've ever gone to.

"But you support your union because they do a lot of great things - I just don't agree with it all the time."


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