COVID-19 pandemic plays havoc with Six Nations sports

To say 2020 was a historical year in Six Nations sports would be an understatement.

Instead of looking back and reflecting on various Six Nations teams proudly hoisting championship trophies, or athletes celebrating record breaking accomplishments, there was disappointment as the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to Six Nations sports. Sports — whether it’s hockey, baseball, lacrosse or basketball to name a few — are sources of pure entertainment which can serve as an escape to various life stresses. Unfortunately the community experienced disappointment beginning mid-March 2020 as Six Nations minor hockey came to a sudden stop and the much-anticipated LNHL 2020 tournament was officially cancelled.

“It was pretty disappointing,” Six Nations Minor Hockey Vice President Dennis MacDonald said about minor hockey games coming to a halt last March, along with the entire 2020-2021 season being cancelled. “It wasn’t a shock to me because of all the information I had been listening to. This lock down was expected also.  Airing on the side of caution, when asked about whether practices or anything might happen for minor hockey in the coming months MacDonald stated,

“I don’t know if we will be opening up. It would be great if we could but I wouldn’t rush it just to get back on the ice.”

This season some from Six Nations Minor Hockey are playing in Brantford while others such as Davin MacDonald are sitting out the year.

“What I miss about not playing hockey this year is not having anything to keep me entertained this winter.” 

MacDonald, who played last season for the Six Nations Bantam local league team admitted to being disappointed.

“I was pretty disappointed that I was not playing this year. At the moment I am not practicing hockey.”  

Naturally, due to COVID-19, there was no Six Nations Minor Hockey Awards Banquet last year and of course with the season cancelled, there won’t be one this year. Meanwhile, Arena Lacrosse League fans also experienced disappointment when on March 14th with only a couple of weeks remaining in the season, the games were officially suspended due to the virus. League president Paul St. John planned on finishing up the season and playoffs in September but eventually due to health concerns, the season was cancelled all together.

“I was disappointed with the cancellation especially since the summer season was cancelled and I coach and am involved with many different levels: NAIG U19 Aboriginal Team Ontario, OWBLL Outlaws, Akwesasne Storm Midget and Peewee Girls Box Lacrosse, and Team Quebec U16 girls box lacrosse for Canada,” said Hannah Claire who started the Arena Lacrosse League season with the Oshawa Outlaws before moving to the St. Catharines Shockwave. 

“I just love playing lacrosse in general. There’s a connection I can’t quite explain.”

Getting on a serious roll in the Arena Lacrosse League men’s division were the Six Nations Snipers who when COVID hit, were riding a five- game winning streak. Once the weather turned warm and summer arrived the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, was empty as the Six Nations Rebels, Six Nations Arrows, Six Nations Chiefs, Six Nations Jr. ‘C’ Warriors and Six Nations Rivermen along with Six Nations Minor Lacrosse were some of the lacrosse entertainment which were cancelled. The good news however is that there were clinics and scrimmages being run by Six Nations Minor Lacrosse President Kevin (Cubb) McNaughton and Coaching Convenor (Bantam to Intermediate) Neil Henhawk on certain days this past summer over at OMSK. Also vacant this past summer were the Six Nations ball diamonds which normally on any given summer night consists of ball games and tournaments going on with bleachers full of enthusiastic fans cheering them on.

“It was very disappointing for SNMBA to cancel their season and let down a lot of the children and families that enjoy playing,” Six Nations minor ball President Alisha Anderson said. “We were hoping that we would have been able to do some development training for the kids but because COVID hung around till this point that we were not able to do that either.” 

Anderson added “As for the community I think they were in support of the association making the call as it was in the best interest to keep our children & community safe.”

Among the much-anticipated events that also got cancelled due to COVID-19 was the 2020 Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament which has many young players making the trek to Brantford to eagerly play ball hockey and afterwards shake Walter Gretzky’s hand.

Naturally school sports were cancelled last spring and this year as well which consists of such events as cross country running, basketball, volleyball and badminton to name just a few. Junior hockey fans are currently in limbo to see when or if the Caledonia Pro-Fit Corvairs or Hagersville Hawks will start what would be a shortened season. This truly was a year in sports which won’t be forgotten, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Let’s hope that 2021 will bring better times not only Six Nations sports resuming but better times and good health for the entire world.

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