Picture of the Algonquin Sports Therapy Clinic Photo credit: Frankie Benvenuti

The Ontario College Athletics Association has officially cancelled all fall semester sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the cancellation, Algonquin College will not see sports until the winter semester at the earliest. There will not be a soccer or rugby season in 2020.

“In collaboration with our members, extensive contingency planning, and aligned with current fall academic delivery models, this is a difficult but necessary decision in order to protect the health and well-being of all of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” said OCAA President, Nathan McFadden.

“The safety of the entire OCAA membership and our participants is our top priority, but we understand and share the deep disappointment this especially causes for our 4,000 student-athletes. We will get through this, and when we resume competition, the viability of the OCAA will be more important than ever before in uniting both our campuses and communities together in sport,” said McFadden.

The news has disappointed coaches, players, students, and alumni who were hoping the season would get going at some point.

“I think it’s really unfortunate and was hoping the school would be able to open some of their facilities for the athletes to get together and train in small groups,” said former co-captain of the men’s soccer team, Tom Bastien.

“It’s upsetting. I understand why they made the decision but it feels very premature,” said Les Escobar, a former member of the men’s and women’s soccer coaching staff.

“On top of that, lots of questions for student-athletes who unfortunately rely on the athletic bursary or who choose specific schools for their athletics program,” said Escobar.

Escobar remains in contact with some of the members of the men’s and women’s soccer team.

“Players are extremely upset. Not just as a new student-athlete but there are veterans who will be graduating next year and will miss a key component of their college life. Our teams were like family. I still talk with former Thunder athletes I coached back in 2001. I also talk to alum from Carleton and Queen’s and they are also heartbroken because they actually intertwine athletics into regular campus life,” said Escobar.

“The other part is that we have really good teams who would be national or provincial contenders. Both soccer teams, women’s basketball are extremely strong teams who compete at the national level,” said Escobar.

COVID-19 has destroyed the sporting world as we know it and OCAA sports are the latest casualty of the virus. Winter semester sports appear to still be on the table, but it is unclear if those sports will kick off on time.