And, it’s something that could have been completely avoided if only a pair of groups could have worked together.
Here’s the situation. The male ball hockey portion of the Games runs Aug. 13-16 in Conception Bay South. That puts it in the first half of competition.
At the same time, Hockey NL is running its under-16 High Performance Program at the Gander Community Centre three hours away. It’s a camp designed to pick a group of players at various Atlantic tournaments next fall.
It doesn’t seem like much there, until you factor in that the Games and HPP are drawing from the same athlete pool. It’s a pool that includes some of the more talented athletes the province has to offer at the age group.
Looking to the Avalon region, the likes of Kyle Petten, Dawson Mercer, Riley Petten, Lucas Russell, Ethan Crosbie, David Hibbs, Luke Akerman, Dawson Laundry and Braedon Carlson are just a few of the athletes on the under-16 HPP roster.
That means those guys have to choose between representing their region or their province. Both are huge honours and should be treated as such.
For the record, there is no conflict with female ball hockey. It runs the second half of the Games schedule and the HPP female camp is the first weekend in August.
I mean no matter what you think about the NL Games, they’re still the preeminent sporting extravaganza this province has to offer. Some of our best athletes have competed at the event for their respective centres.
It’s a high profile event that gets plenty of coverage every couple of years when it rolls around. For a lot of kids, it’ll be their only chance to take part in something styled after the Olympics and Canada Games.
So, it’s an incredible shame when adults can’t get something done to allow these kids to do both.
Those in the know say HNL and the organizing committee knew this was coming as early as two years ago. Yet, there was still no resolution or compromise made so the athletes could have the best of both worlds.
It’s s shame, really.
There will be no second opportunity for these boys to play in the Games. In four years, they’ll be entering university or trade school. That’s not really the age the Games is geared towards.
In Newfoundland amateur sport, working together is rarely at the forefront. Egos and personalities get in the way, when it should only ever be about giving the athletes the best experiences we can.
There’s no reason the HPP weekend couldn’t have been shifted a week in either direction to accommodate the players. Now, I know ice in Gander is at a premium this time of year. They’re booked for camps until the end of August.
Still, I think something could’ve been worked out.
At the same time, why couldn’t schedulers for the Games have ensured the male ball hockey wasn’t conflicting with the HPP camp?
Now, I know there has to be a balance of male and female events for each part of the week in CBS.
However if they truly knew this two years ago, there should have been some compromise worked out.
Shifting things either way wouldn’t have been that much of a headache for the Games committee I’m sure.
Any amount of foresight at all from either party four years ago or even 730 days out could’ve prevented this snafu.
We really need to get better at communicating.
— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass in Carbonear. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org