Skip to content

Preeceville basketball players, parents strike back at STF plans

The possible cancelation of Hoopla has many who are affected voicing concerns and frustrations from the Preeceville School.
The Preeceville School senior girls basketball team were beyond excited when they were crowned regional champions and had the opportunity to go to Hoopla, which may be cancelled due to teachers strike action. / Photo by Heidi Patterson

PREECEVILLE - Frustration, disappointment and anger is rising in the Preeceville and surrounding areas at the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation announcement on Monday of teachers providing a 48-hours notice of a one-day province-wide strike on March 20, and a two-day withdrawal of extracurricular March 21-22. The job action will affect Hoopla (a Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association basketball provincial championship) that is scheduled for this weekend in Moose Jaw.

The Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association has responded with a notice that unless the collective bargaining impasse is solved by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Hoopla will be cancelled.

Many players, parents and coaches from Preeceville hope their voices can be heard to allow Hoopla to go forward after both senior boys and girls teams won the Regional championships that earned them the privilege and right to attend Hoopla. It is the first time in the school’s history that they are both attending

Gabby Murray who is a Grade 12 graduating player from Preeceville and a member of the Preeceville Schools team voiced her concerns.

“Hear my voice: I am a graduating player of the Preeceville Panther Sr. Girls Basketball team, to which I, as well as my teammates, have put many hours towards this sport that we all truly love. Our hard work, dedication, and determination we have put towards this season is not something that should be so easily taken away from us. High school sports and the athletes participating in them should NOT be used as weapons in order to get something that favours you.

I, and the other graduating member on my team will NEVER get this opportunity again, we have put our best effort towards this season, and just want to finish our final season of the sport we love. My team, and the others who have qualified for Hoopla, have worked so undeniably hard to be in the position we are in, and we will not let it be ripped from us without you hearing our voices,” she stated.

Sarah Masko, another Preeceville School senior girls team member stated, “My team is so disappointed that HOOPLA may be cancelled. The moment that we won the regional final, all of us were so excited that we ran on to the floor hugging one another celebrating! A few of us even had tears in ours! I personally am still in shock. I can’t believe that a huge event like that can be taken away. I feel especially bad for our two graduating players and any other Grade 12 students who’ve qualified. This was their final season; their last chance to make it to provincials. As a team we’ve accomplished a huge goal, only for the opportunity to be taken away from us. The grade 12s have already lost so much basketball from Grade 7 on. They don’t deserve to have this taken from them, nobody does.”

“The path you've chosen to take our kids down, with the retraction of HOOPLA is simply disheartening,” said Brandi Heskin, parent of one of the members of the girls team .

“You've taken away hundreds of kid's appetites to want to strive for something extraordinary. You're crushing high school kid's dreams of making it to HOOPLA. You're taking the feeling away of stepping onto a court filled with the province's best players and the anticipation to compete for a great title that's been around for decades. My daughter, along with hundreds of other sons and daughters, have put countless hours, tears, and sweat towards achieving athletic success, only to have them be stripped of their acknowledgment to succeed in sport.

"Coaches, teachers, parents and students are NOT some game piece you should be choosing to use as pawns. The amount of time, travel, and personal money that coaches, teachers, parents and students have spent on building their athletic success is abundant. The choice YOU made to take that all away by the retraction of HOOPLA just shows you don't care about the students at all. You're out for your own agenda (whatever that may be), all while losing the support of many of the teachers in this province. It's been made clear that the 95% of support from teachers you had in the beginning of all this, has dropped significantly. I, for one, would like to see the [percentage] of teachers support you have now.

"You had my full support as a parent in the beginning of this but I've seen the trend, that already started months ago, where the public's support of the STF was dwindling, and fast. People started digging into their own division's AGM reports, and to see how much of the government's money was being spent on each school's division's administration, where they chose to keep for their own pockets vs infrastructure. I'm sure you as the STF had to do your due diligence and investigate where and how funds were allocated within division's, so you would be up to date before starting any bargaining, correct me if I'm wrong. I'm also sure that that's why you pushed the teachers to agree to giving you the full go ahead in bargaining tactics vs the teachers being involved in each tactic.

"Don't get me wrong, teachers need more say, but this is NOT the moral way of handling the situation.

"I think the outcome about to happen is on YOU, the STF, NOT the teachers, let that be crystal clear! Only you used HOOPLA as a bargaining tactic and only YOU chose to use our kids as leverage.

"You wanted the emotion of anger and frustration to be directed at the government, but you've failed in some of the public's eyes, and it's you who's lost a lot of the pubic's support and trust. The many teachers I've spoken with on the matter, in the case of HOOPLA retraction, has also lost their trust and NOT ONE of those teachers agrees with your tactic to cancel such an important event,” stated Heskin.

Jennifer Lindgren, coach of the Norquay senior girls basketball team who also advance to Hoopla had some strong words of disappointment. “Take a look at these faces, really look., these are kids that have been working towards HOOPLA as their goal for over four months. A team isn't just about the skill its about building mental strength, confidence, resilience and team work. At the beginning of the season we asked these girls to write down their goal which they chose as HOOPLA and we told them that if we work hard together as a team we can reach that goal.

"STF you are using these faces as a bargaining chip and it is appalling. There are other ways!! I am a community coach that works with teachers. I DO support teachers, I SO understand what teachers need, but I do NOT support your efforts when it is clear that you are NOT looking out for the kids in this situation.

"What are we teaching these kids about working hard to reach their goals, this isn't something they can get back. STF are targeting ONLY the senior kids and it is disgusting. Rethink your action and let's put ALL the kids first," stated Lindgren

“We have stood with you, supported you and believe in fair treatment for teachers, staff and students,” stated Scott Carroll, a Preeceville School parent. “Now it is time for you to stand up for the students who have worked hard at something they love and are passionate about just like you and you are trying to take that away from them? If you choose to cancel all activities and rob the students of their chance to play at Hoopla this weekend you will lose the support of many parents, students and community members. We understand your frustration but don’t make the kids suffer. This is your chance to show you really care about the kids, don’t punish them as they did nothing wrong. Thanks in advance for doing the right thing,” said Carroll.