Gavin Banting is ineligible to play soccer for St. Michaels University this year.

Districts making it tougher for athletes to transfer schools

Academics, catchment have priority over high school sports

Grade 10 student Gavin Banting was surprised in September when he arrived at his new school, St. Michaels University, and was told he is ineligible to play for the school’s soccer team.

Banting and his parents settled on the school after a thorough search of Greater Victoria options earlier this year. Banting moved from Nanoose Bay to SMUS so he could be closer to his soccer team, the Island’s top high performance program for his age group.

Once he arrived, he found the school and on-campus life so engaging he chose to withdraw from the demands of high performance soccer in favour of further engaging in campus life while assuming he could still play soccer for the school team.

“[Gavin] didn’t go to SMUS for soccer, we didn’t know much about their soccer program, I heard the senior team won the league last year but just heard that recently,” said Banting’s father, Murray.

For Banting, it was frustrating but he moved on, taking up a role with the basketball team and joining a local club soccer team.

Unfortunately, Banting had represented his former school, Aspengrove (Nanaimo), in a one-weekend tournament last year, the only games Aspengrove played that season. That made Banting subject to B.C. School Sports eligibility rules. The rules aren’t new – they’re based on the same transfer rules that kept Banting’s alma mater Steve Nash on the sidelines for a season in the 1990-91 when he left Mount Douglas.

Transfers in Greater Victoria for sports reasons are quite common. But they’ll becoming increasingly more difficult. Last year in B.C., 165 students were found ineligible to play a certain sport out of 987 eligibility submissions.

“That’s out of 90,000 students, I think that paints a pretty good picture,” said Jordan Abney, executive director of BCSS.

With the projected surge of the SD61 student population by 2,000 over the next decade, the board recently upped its proof of residency rules and reranked its enrolment priorities. Incoming middle school and high school students to SD61 schools will be prioritized by in-catchment students first.

Transfer rules have also strengthened at the provincial level. BCSS amended a somewhat arbitrary academic transfer rule for BCSS (but also an effective one), to become a cut and dry rule stating students need to prove they’ve enrolled in three courses that were previously enviable to them.

Banting didn’t qualify.

Neither did a foursome of Grade 10 basketball players who left Spectrum for Lambrick Park this year but are waiting the year out due to BCSS rules.

It’s not the first time a player left Spectrum, though the school has also graduated plenty of top end athletes, such as Shanice Marcelle, who was named Canada’s top female university athlete.

Four years ago Lauren Yearwood left Spectrum to play senior basketball for Oak Bay High. (On a sidenote, Yearwood’s actually sitting out this year, per NCAA rules, as she has transferred from Oregon Ducks to Nash’s alma mater, Santa Clara.)

The penalty of sitting out a year is an old rule to protect schools from loading up sports teams.

What people forget is BCSS rules are made by the schools themselves, these eligibility rules are determined by schools themselves, they’re the members, Abney said.

“What our policies are meant to restrict is movement based on athletic activities,” Abney said. “School sport in its purest form is that you go to school for an education, and athletics is a complement to education, not the reason to transfer schools. Students can not register out of catchment on the grounds that their catchment school does not have a specific sports program that they want to be part of.”

All that said, students are still welcome transfer in their high schol years, and SD61 wants to accommodate student needs as best as possible, said spokesperson Lisa McPhail.

Oak Bay High, for example, has been a school prioritized by local athletes and students in general. But the newly completed building is already at capacity, but there is some room.

And wherever there is room, non-catchment students will be accepted, albeit it by lottery, and not first-come first-serve.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Strike taking a toll on families of WFP workers with Christmas approaching

Vancouver Islanders rally to provide assistance through grassroots charity campaigns

Judge dismisses second appeal of Victoria man who murdered unarmed man in 2010 botched robbery

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt has had two trials after his first appeal was granted

Parksville swimmer shatters four world records

Nicholas Bennett, 16, shines on world stage

Ladysmith set to star in new Syfy series: Resident Alien

Downtown had the look to play role of Patience, Colorado, filming starts next month

Vancouver Island sees one of the lowest November rainfalls in decades

Only a third of the expected rainfall was seen across the Capital Region

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

Up to 1,500 new rental units proposed for Victoria

More than a million square feet of rental units proposed for downtown Yates Street development

Hundreds of students gather at Government House to decorate Christmas Trees

The annual tradition let Grade 2 and 3 students help celebrate for the holidays

In and out in 60 seconds, suspects get away with $10,000 in jewels from WestShore Gold and Silver

Langford business broken into just down the street from West Shore RCMP detachment

Parksville says high-traffic area no place for a car wash

Councillor also voices concern 24-hour operation could be disruptive to nearby nursing home

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Most Read