Despite missing their final athletic season as high school students two Oak Bay star athletes are trying to stay positive while looking to the future.
Max Abercrombie was ready to captain the Barbarians rugby team as flyhalf. Instead, the Canadian under-18 international player was kept out of the team’s last game, the annual Boot Game derby against Saint Michaels University School.
Abercrombie was on a two-week protocol for concussion. The 17-year-old has already missed a trip to the U.S.A. this month to play in an elite youth rugby sevens tournament and on Friday Rugby Canada officially canceled his summer plans to play for the U18 team.
B.C. School Sports already cancelled the high school sports season a few weeks ago and even if the rumblings of students returning to part time school do come true, there won’t be sports anyways, noted retiring Oak Bay High track and field coach Mike Sheffer.
“They only get a few seasons, it’s disappointing, it’s a big event for [the students],” Sheffer said.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Abercrombie said. “My senior season, I was going to be the senior captain. You look forward to being the senior all four years of high school and now I’m missing out on that opportunity.”
It’s not all lost. The Castaway Wanderers youth rugby star has already shown enough skills that he will play rugby at one of Canada’s top university programs, possibly joining his brother Tom on the University of B.C. Thunderbirds.
Doubt is now creeping into any hope that there will be U-Sports rugby in 2020-21.
It’s a similar outlook for Oak Bay track star Makayla Dickinson.
The Grade 12 student was poised to compete for Island and provincial medals in her specialty, the long jump and triple jump. Dickinson won silver in the provincial triple jump last year (second to Claremont’s Rebecca Dutchak, who graduated to UBC this year) and dearly wants to improve on her sixth-place finish in the long jump.
Dickinson was a candidate to hit the podium in four events at this year’s provincials.
All Dickinson can do now is keep up with her school work and train for next year’s track season at the University of Lethbridge, where she’s set to join the school’s esteemed jumping program.
“It’s upsetting that I didn’t get the last year of high school with all my friends,” Dickinson said. “It’s not just my last year of track, it’s all the grad ceremonies [too]. It sucks, but it’s something that we can’t really change right now, [we’re] just getting through it.”
Like other members on Athletics Victoria, Dickinson trains without a coach and has been displaced from UVic’s Centennial Stadium, training instead at Jack Wallace Memorial behind the high school.
Sheffer identified Dickinson’s speediness as a Grade 9 student and she’s competed on Oak Bay’s senior relay teams, the 4 x 100-metre and 4 x 400m, at provincials ever since. The two teams won bronze at last year’s provincials.
Oak Bay runs the biggest track and field program on the Island and possibly the province with 75 to 100 members. About 25 to 40 of those athletes advance to provincials.
“It’s disappointing for the students, they only get a few shots at provincials,” Sheffer said. “But all the reservations and plans are cancelled, there’s just no way we can hold any competitions.”
Dickinson believed she was in the hunt to set new league, city and Island records in the long-jump and triple jump, finally.
“When I got here I heard the seniors [track and field athletes] talking proudly about how they went to provincials in all four years and that’s something I wanted,” Dickinson said.
Likewise, Abercrombie can be seen out kicking the ball around Windsor Park to keep his skills sharp.
“Everyone’s gutted,” Abercrombie said. “This was supposed to be the first season on the new Oak Bay home [rugby] pitch, and we won’t get that opportunity.”