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Star high school athletes worried about scholarships, exposure with sports season in question

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A lack of inter-school sports in B.C. high schools is expected to impact the ability of athletes to get noticed and receive post-secondary scholarships.

B.C. health officials are still working with viaSport to determine whether some competitive sports may be played this year, but for now, games are being sidelined.

“We have to live differently under the pandemic. School is being lived under a new normal right now. We will be working with the B.C. High School Sports Association for example on later in the fall in terms of what we can do on how to do sports safely,” B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming said.

“As Dr. Bonnie Henry says, this is not forever. This is for now. There will be some changes.”

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Many high school athletes rely on their Grade 12 year to impress universities and improve their skills. Many student-athletes have grown or added additional weight and are anxious to show that off to coaches at the next level.

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The secondary schools are putting together plans now on how players could potentially be cohorts with a school or different schools could be put in the same bubble to allow both schools and games at the same time.

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Others, like New Westminster Secondary star Vishaan Narayan were scheduled to spend the year at a high school in the United States. Narayan was scheduled to play football in Florida to improve the competition and increase the number of scouts that could see him.

Narayan is still expected to get offers to play at the next level, especially in Canada, but the pandemic will leave an impact.

“It has taken away that increased U.S. exposure and the type of rep that American players and coaches have with each other,” Narayan said.

Those staying closer to home were looking to their last year as a chance to improve while also making everyone else around them better as well.

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Sophia Wisotzki, a star for Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators, has been spending the pandemic developing skills on her backyard hoop.

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“I have been keeping in shape. Lifting weights,” Wisotzki said.

“I think they are just trying to keep us safe. I get that but I just wish there was a season so I could play with my teammates one more time.”

The province says it will review sports in September and determine if inter-school sports are an option.

Provincial health officer Dr. Henry says games would have to be played without fans and there is a concern around travelling and gathering both in locker rooms and in gyms.

“We will be looking at ways — like we’re doing through the summer where local teams can play each other in a certain way, but there will be no tournaments, there will be no assemblies, there will be no large group gatherings where people from outside areas would be coming together,” Henry said.