It was already going to be an OCAA (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) varsity season like no other - but at Cambrian College, home of the Golden Shield, the waters will be muddier than in most parts of the province.
Where the OCAA is featuring regionalized and truncated schedules for the 2021-2022 campaign, the local college is getting back in the race, only partially.
The Golden Shield opted not to have either of their two soccer teams nor the cross-country crew compete in formalized OCAA competition this fall, while green-lighting the participation of both volleyball programs, as well as the badminton team.
According to Athletics Manager Tim Yu, there are a few reasons for the discrepencies between sports.
First and foremost is an issue of timing.
"They (volleyball and badminton) are in a different situation because their start would be for the winter semester," he explained. "Exhibition play would be permissible as of October 15th with the season to start in January. The expectation is that by January, we are hoping to have transitioned to a time when we can travel."
Travelling with a large group of athletes currently, as would be the case for both soccer squads, and potentially the XC team as well, "was a concern" for the college, according to Yu.
There was also a question about whether a fully cancelled 2020 season and 18 months of dealing with a global pandemic was a fair launching pad for incoming men's soccer coach Jason Garforth.
"Not knowing exactly what we had going into the 2021-2022 season, we though we may be better off allowing a year of development," said Yu. "Give the new coach a proper chance to recruit, a chance to come on campus and work with the guys instead of maybe getting shellshocked."
With that in mind, the hope is that the soccer teams are able to establish a series of exhibition games/friendlies with other OCAA opponents in the north, as well as perhaps catching a few of the southern teams, making the trek to Sault Ste Marie and hoping to squeeze in one extra chance to play on their lengthy journey north.
Yu also confirmed that there are no repercussions to the decision to forego one season of play, with both soccer and cross-country expected to be back in the mix on year from now.