Grade 8 javelinist Justin Dolan launches his missile during last Thursday’s practice at Hope Secondary School. Coach Jason Fisher plans to take a small team of athletes to community invitational track and field meets in June.

Grade 8 javelinist Justin Dolan launches his missile during last Thursday’s practice at Hope Secondary School. Coach Jason Fisher plans to take a small team of athletes to community invitational track and field meets in June.

Hope athletes keep track and field season alive

Team plans on attending several community meets in June

It’s been a slow spring for high school sports, due to the protracted teachers’ dispute — but a small group Hope Secondary students are keeping the track and field season alive, with after-school practices and plans to attend two or three community meets in June.

Jason Fisher, who has been coaching athletics at the school since he came to Hope in 2006, is an acting vice-principal this year and is thus not affected by union obligations.

“It fluctuates, but we’ve had as many as 15 kids this year who have come out for practices,” said Fisher on Monday. “We’ve actually had a decent number of Grade 8s and a number of Grade 11s, with a good mix of males and females.

“The throwing events, in general, are what most of them have gravitated to, especially the javelin, discus and hammer throw. We also have a pole-vaulter, Jeremiah Steberl. His brother Matt (grad of 2010) got started on it when he was in Grade 10 and Jeremiah’s in Grade 8, so I’ve got him going a few years earlier.

“It’s been a pretty difficult year, though, “ said Fisher, “because we didn’t have school meets to attend” due to down-valley schools shutting down their programs.

“I made an executive decision and didn’t register our school with B.C. School Sports.”

Because they weren’t registered, the students weren’t able to take part in the regional Fraser Valley meet, which is usually a prerequisite for getting to the B.C. high school track and field championships, which run this weekend at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.

“The Fraser Valley championships were way down this year,” added Fisher. “They capped it at 600 participants due to the lack of manpower to run it.”

Looking at the meet results, public schools were largely absent, or minimally represented — leaving the field wide open for the independent, faith-based schools.

Fisher consulted the bcsscctfa.bc.ca site and saw a similar pattern going into the provincial finals.

“I see Alberni Valley is only sending two athletes — and they usually have a big team,” he said.  “Lots of these look like private schools. I see Chilliwack Secondary is sending one and G.W. Graham is only sending five. It’s usually twice that many for G.W. Graham. It’s kind of sad, really.

“Oak Bay is sending 45, though — which is huge. They’re a powerhouse and they’ll likely do well.”

Larger communities have track and field clubs that are independent of schools, offering coaching for youth and adult members. Many put on track meets during the year and Fisher is looking at taking the Hope team to a few of these.

“The first one is on June 9 and 10 in Coquitlam, the Jesse Bent Memorial,” said Fisher. “It’s at the Coquitlam Oval [Percy Perry Stadium] and they got a brand new track last year. It’s beautiful… probably the best in B.C. right now. The throwing areas were redone, as well.

“The second meet is in Langley, from June 15 to 17 — and we’re still considering the Kelowna meet on the last weekend in June,” said the coach. “I haven’t been there in a while but it used to be one of the biggest meets in B.C.”

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Walkers who have been taking part in the “Walk to Alaska” program at the local rec centre can turn around and start walking back, says program leader Kim Richardson.

The group of about 20 step-counters combined their efforts to walk the equivalent distance of Hope, B.C. to Point Hope, Alaska.

“It was about eight million steps, in all,” says Richardson. “It took about seven weeks but we’re homeward bound now.”

There are no joiners allowed at this point, so it’s up to the group to get everyone home safely… hopefully before the end of August, when a new virtual-walk will be getting ready.

“We’ll be heading south to Mexico in the fall,” says Richardson, “and we’ll have more pedometers by then.”