Nanaimo-Ladysmith reverses gas-saving measure for some sports teams

CHEK

A flurry of emails and calls to officials and school trustees has led the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District to quickly reverse a decision about out-of-district travel for its sports teams travelling to provincial tournaments.

The measure was one of many announced by the district Monday night in an attempt to reduce gas consumption in light of distribution challenges caused by the flooding and slides last week.

Superintendent Scott Saywell says Sunday morning the Ministry of Education called a meeting of school district superintendents to cancel or postpone unnecessary travel in light of gas distribution challenges following the flooding on the mainland.

“So we did that,” said Saywell. “We thought we were following the direction.”

But different school districts had different interpretations of what non-essential travel meant. Nanaimo’s John Barsby Bulldogs were the only football team to pull out of the provincial double AA tournament set for BC Place this weekend.

Arwen Smith, the first girl to play on the boy’s varsity team in 25 years, says the team learned they weren’t going to the provincials Tuesday afternoon.

“Coach comes to talk to us and he’s like ‘Sorry guys news from the school district. We’re not going to be able to go to our game this weekend,’ and no one was too impressed and there was a lot of swearing,” said Smith.

“Since it was my senior year it would be my last chance at going to the bowl for championships,” said Marek Smith, her older brother and Bulldog player. Smith said he would like to play at the post-secondary level and knows scouts will be at the tournament.

On Wednesday morning, Bulldogs members, parents and supporters arrived at School District offices to protest when the superintendent came out and told them the decision would be reversed.

“There was a big cheer in the parking lot and a few tears by moms out there and relief,” said Jason Smith, Marek and Arwen’s father.

“I’m happy that he changed his mind about it,” said Marek Smith.

A soccer team from Nanaimo District Secondary is also heading to provincials this weekend after the reversed decision for sports teams.

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