Calgary Board of Education cuts ties with the National Sport School

Canadian Kyle Shewfelt, from Calgary, competes on the rings during the Artistic Gymnastic qualification at the Beijing Olympics in Beijing, China Saturday Aug.9, 2008. The National Sport School in Calgary that produces Olympic and Paralympic champions faces possible closure after a quarter century. Alumni include Olympic champions Kyle Shewfelt (gymnastics), Jennifer Botterill, Carla MacLeod and Jocelyne Larocque (hockey), Kaillie Humphries (bobsled), Brady Leman (ski cross) and six-time Paralympic swim champion Jessica Sloan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

After a 26-year relationship with WinSport, the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) voted unanimously on Wednesday to close the National Sport School.

The decision means the board is cutting ties with the student-athlete program, which has been based at WinSport since 2011.

The move, however, doesn’t mean the National Sport School is done for good.

Read more: ‘Closing it down will have catastrophic repercussions’: Calgary’s National Sport School faces uncertain future

WinSport said this decision now opens the door to a new partnership with the Palliser School Division based out of Lethbridge, which would see the program remain at Canada Olympic Park.

“Basically, this was the best-case scenario for all stakeholders, especially for students, future students and the long-term future of the program at WinSport,” Dale Oviatt, WinSport’s senior manager of communications, told Global News.

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“You know, it’s such a unique program and the ultimate goal was to keep this program at WinSport, and I think for all involved, it ended up being the best outcome possible.”

Oviatt said the relationship with the CBE has been a great one over the last 26 years, but changes were necessary for the program to adapt and move forward.

“It just came to the point where they couldn’t support the program like we would like, and the students would like, and the parents would like, and it just made sense for a group like Palliser to come in and take over the program.”

Read more: National Sport School gets a year’s reprieve from Calgary school board

WinSport said they’ll work with the CBE until June to make a smooth transition to the new partnership with Palliser.

In a statement, WinSport thanked the CBE board of trustees and administration for their ongoing support since the school opened in 1994.

“We are grateful for the partnership with CBE, which has supported so many Canadian athletes,” said Phil Graham, WinSport’s vice-president and chief financial officer.

“We look forward to working with the CBE to provide a smooth transition for the school to the Palliser School Division and to preserve the opportunity for young student-athletes to achieve academic and athletic success at WinSport.”

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Click to play video: 'Parents worried about possible ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Calgary’s National Sport School were to close' Parents worried about possible ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Calgary’s National Sport School were to close
Parents worried about possible ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Calgary’s National Sport School were to close – Nov 18, 2019

The Calgary Olympic Development Association, now WinSport, and the CBE jointly established the school in 1994 to help athletes both pursue sport at a world level and graduate from high school.

Alumni include Olympic champions Kyle Shewfelt (gymnastics), Jennifer BotterillCarla MacLeod and Jocelyne Larocque (hockey), Kaillie Humphries (bobsled), Brady Leman (ski cross) and six-time Paralympic swim champion Jessica Sloan.

Two dozen NSS alum competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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