Floor teams to open season with modified schedule

Due to the uncertainty of high school sports in the Keewatin-Patricia board this year, NorWOSSA has been forced to create a modified schedule that will combine “A” and “AA” programs for the first time.
The Muskies will join Atikokan, Rainy River, Whitefish Bay, Pelican Falls, and Thomas Aquinas (Kenora) in girls’ basketball and boys’ volleyball action later this month.
The black-and-gold are slated to see their first exhibition action Sept. 23 in Atikokan. They also will host a junior and senior boys’ volleyball tournament Sept. 25-26, and are slated to play in a tournament in Timmins later this month.
Fort High vice-principal Ian Simpson has been appointed as interim league president, assisted by vice-president Guy Arpin of Rainy River. FFHS teacher Brenda Pressenger will act as the secretary-treasurer.
They will oversee the league’s operations until the current situation in NorWOSSA is resolved.
At a meeting here last week to finalize the new six-league format, it was decided the top three teams will make the playoffs. After that, the teams will advance through to either the “A” or “AA” branch.
The “A” teams will play against squads from the North Shore while the Muskies would advance to the NWOSSAA championship against the Thunder Bay winner.
Simpson said it has yet to be determined whether the Muskies, the only “AA” program in the league, will be granted an automatic berth to NWOSSAA or even OFSAA.
But he did note the playoff schedule will try to help the ‘A’ programs by giving them more of a break between games before they play the Muskies.
Simpson also said it remains to be seen whether the league will be unbalanced in terms of competition due to the various talent levels of players from the “A” and “AA” programs.
“In volleyball it might be more balanced, without much of a difference, but it’s really hard to say,” he remarked.
But if past history is any indication, the Muskies have dominated “A” teams on the basketball court. And that unbalance may hurt the progress of some of their players who hope to move on to the college or university level.
Another problem facing the new league is the fact both Pelican Falls and Whitefish Bay do not have girls’ basketball programs while Thomas Aquinas only fields a junior girls’ squad.
But veteran girls’ basketball coach Gord McCabe said the Muskies can’t be worried about whether the teams they play will be competitive.
“All we can do is play as well as we can and try to be the best team that we can be by the end of the year,” said McCabe, who will be co-coaching both the senior and junior girls’ teams along with Kent Kowalski.
“What we can’t change is the external things.”
“Right now it’s too early to tell if, or when, things will get back to normal,” said Simpson, adding he has heard contract talks in the Keewatin-Patricia board haven’t been going well.
Meanwhile, the Muskie hockey team, also left without a NorWOSSA league, will be forced to play a schedule of exhibition games and tournaments much like the football squad.
The team will start the season in Warroad with a series of “controlled scrimmages” against American teams. The rest of their games will be played against teams from Manitoba and Minnesota.