Excitement has turned to defeat.
The Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League has cancelled its milestone 20th anniversary season due to COVID-19.
The 2020 campaign was to see the return of Kelowna to the league in the form of the expansion Kodiaks, as well as the return of a revised Armstrong Shamrocks squad that would have played the majority of its home games in Salmon Arm.
The 2018 champion Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Tigers were looking to rebound from a subpar 3-10-1 season in 2019. Penticton’s South Okanagan Flames were set to defend their first-ever league playoff title, having defeated the Kamloops Venom in four games in last season’s best-of-five championship.
“It is with great regret but in the best interest and safety of all involved that the TOJLL announces that the 2020 season is officially cancelled,” said commissioner Jeff Hanley of Armstrong.
“Our amazing groups of coaches and team management will continue to try and find a way to get players back on the floor for some possible exhibition games or small tournaments if at all possible as allowed. We strongly encourage any players interested in playing to keep in touch with their home teams and to watch the TOJLL website for more information.
“We look forward to a full and exciting season in 2021 and hope to see you all then.”
Hanley said league officials and team representatives have been meeting regularly and trying to schedule a season without really knowing when it would be possible.
“It is a high priority within our league to keep athletes playing, improving their skills and to build our league as a whole,” he said. “The most important consideration, however, is the health and welfare of our athletes, volunteers and fans. With the latest announcements from the provincial and federal governments, it is becoming clear that we can not hope to schedule and plan a full season within the new time frame.”
Hanley said having the league the schedule go later into the summer/fall is difficult with all other contact sports coming back at the same time, making what is already hard to find dry floor time even harder to secure.
The four-team Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League cancelled its season earlier in May.
North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse activities are still suspended until further notice, according to its website.