Hamilton, Oshawa, St. Catharines OUA sports teams can return to play


Published January 21, 2022 at 6:46 pm

University student-athletes in Hamilton, Oshawa and St. Catharines will no longer be playing left out.

Ontario University Athletics, whose exclusion from the elite sports permitted to train and compete during the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a public outcry earlier this month, announced Friday that that competition will resume. Per OUA’s announcement, a return to training will commence on January 31. Teams will have about a week to practise and try to get up to game to speed before regular-season schedules resume Feb. 9, with the originally scheduled slate of games for that date.

“All of the aforementioned activity will abide by all necessary health and safety protocols,” OUA, whose head office in Burlington, said in a media release.

Further details regarding the return of OUA competition will be provided next week, including championship dates, the league said. That might include information on spectator capacity.

In any event, members of the Brock Badgers, McMaster Marauders and Ontario Tech Ridgebacks varsity teams will have a chance to finish their seasons. The last game in any tier-1 OUA team were played on December 4, before the normal Christmas exam hiatus.

After a year off due to COVID-19, university sports resumed in the province in late September. All team sports have been playing regionalized regular-season schedules to reduce contacts and travel.

Ontario reverted to a modified Stage 2 reopening on January 5, and announced Thursday that this phase will end on January 31. The pro-environment Ontario Hockey League, the bulk of whose alumni go on to populate OUA men’s hockey rosters, was permitted to continue playing. But OUA, whose graduates include Olympians and pros in several sports, was not permitted to have its teams resume training.

In response, a petition was organized by a student-athlete athletic association to lift the restriction. It garnered 7,500 signatures before it was presented to Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod.

Burlington basketball pro Caleb Agada also filmed a video urging Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party government to include OUA as elite sport. Agada, an Ottawa Gee-Gees alumnus, competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for Nigeria and is playing in Australia’s NBL.

For now, the first on-campus action for McMaster is a volleyball doubleheader against Western at Burridge Gym on February 10. The women’s and men’s basketball Marauders have matinee matchups against Western on February 12.

Brock’s first game involves the women’s hockey Badgers hosting Western on Feb. 10 at Seymour-Hannah Centre. The volleyball teams welcome Windsor on Feb. 13, and the hoops teams are home to McMaster on February 16.

At Ontario Tech, the women’s hockey Ridgebacks host York on February 12, and the men’s team takes on Queen’s on February 13. The Ridgebacks basketball teams were not scheduled to have any home games after February 8.

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