‘We have so much to be grateful for’: Fernie Secondary School athletics going strong

The Fernie Secondary School Falcons, a Junior Girls volleyball team, went undefeated in the 2021 Regional East Kootenay Zone Championships. Back Row, from left: Cari Munro, Summer Musschoot, Grace Sims, Nicola Jones, Camilla Gonzalez, Sage Ivany, Saidee Shaw, Cathy Davies, Dan Demmings. Front Row, from left: Ashley Demmings, Ruby Staples, Stevie Frisen, Sierra Uphill. (Courtesy of Cathy Davies)The Fernie Secondary School Falcons, a Junior Girls volleyball team, went undefeated in the 2021 Regional East Kootenay Zone Championships. Back Row, from left: Cari Munro, Summer Musschoot, Grace Sims, Nicola Jones, Camilla Gonzalez, Sage Ivany, Saidee Shaw, Cathy Davies, Dan Demmings. Front Row, from left: Ashley Demmings, Ruby Staples, Stevie Frisen, Sierra Uphill. (Courtesy of Cathy Davies)
The Fernie Secondary School Bantam Girls Falcons, 2021. Back row, from left: Sarah Ingram, Anna Schmidt, Stella Ingram, Taylor Whitbeck, Ella Runions, Raya Ivany, Madi Elzen. Front row, from left: Londyn Johanssen, Jonni Hughes, Milley Gadd, Fernanda Gonzalez, Charlotte Sweet.

Athletics are going strong at Fernie Secondary School (FSS) despite having no leagues or competition last year due to COVID-19.

Cathy Davies, a humanities teacher and Junior Girls volleyball coach, said the school kept the gym open through the pandemic last year in a limited capacity.

Davies said last year was “really rough” for athletes mentally as they were not allowed to compete. Limited cohort-based practices still took place, however, with adults from the community volunteering their time to help. FSS staff volunteered to supervise the space from 3:30 to 9 p.m., four to five days a week. The school’s vice principal and athletic director, Rachel Romero, was also “instrumental” in keeping the kids active and participating.

People had to be masked in the gym, and parents were not allowed in. It was challenging, Davies said, but “the kids really appreciated it.”

“Not only is sports important, it’s that mental health aspect that’s linked into that as well. Just those kids not being able to put on a uniform, like our competitive kids, it means so much to them this year to be able to do that.”

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Though this year’s season was still been limited, FSS athletes have seen success in competitions they have engaged in. Both the Junior Girls and the Bantam Girls volleyball teams saw recent victories on the court, finishing the season strong.

The grade 10 Junior Girls took first place in the the 2021 Regional East Kootenay Zone Championships on Saturday, Nov. 13. The FSS Falcons went undefeated for the whole tournament.

“We didn’t lose a set,” said Davies, who was coaching the team alongside Dan Demmings and Cari Munro.

They bested Crawford Bay, Mount Baker, and Creston in pool play. Then, in the semi-finals, the Falcons had a 2-set victory over the Jaffray Rebels (25-15, 25-19). Fernie then defeated the host team and defending champions, Kimberley’s Selkirk Storm (25-19, 25-20). The same Falcon squad won their Bantam East Kootenay Championship in 2019, before COVID.

The Junior Girls team also won every tournament they entered this year, despite being unable to attend four of their away tournaments in September and October due to to COVID limitations.

“The athleticism of this team continually improves as they spend hours in the gyms, at camps and outdoors honing in on their skill set. A great way to end an epic Junior season!” Davies said.

This year’s grade 8 Bantam Girls volleyball team, coached by Sarah Ingram and Madi Elzen, also saw victory on the court. They defended the 2019 East Kootenay Champion title with wins at Parkland Middle School on Nov. 6. In a best-of-three final match against Parkland, the girls lost the first round 20-25, but came back for the last two, going 25-18 in the second and winning 15-8 in the third.

“This young team showed resilience and tenacity to finish off their season in first place,” said Davies.

She said she is proud of FSS and its attempts to keep kids active and its consideration of their mental health.

“We’ve really stressed gratitude to our athletes. The season might not be exactly as it was pre-COVID, but we have so much to be grateful for — like simply wearing uniforms again, competing and being together as a true team.”

FSS’s last two teams, the Senior Boys and Senior Girls volleyball teams, will be competing in their zone championships this upcoming weekend.

READ MORE: Fernie volleyball athletes qualify for provincials


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