Five layoff notices were issued last year to staff (no coaches) in the TRU WolfPack athletics and recreation department amid the pandemic.
WolfPack athletics and recreation director Curtis Atkinson spoke to KTW about the prospect of increasing staffing levels this year, with Canada West competition expected to return in time for the 2021-2022 campaign.
“I don’t think we’ll be at pre-COVID staffing levels right away, but over time we may build back up there again,” Atkinson said. “We’re really starting to look at that now, this spring. What’s that going to look like as we rebuild?”
Part of the conundrum facing Canada West schools is the uncertainty surrounding what competition will look like next season. League schedules, which are usually ratified by this time of the year, may not be finalized until later this spring or early this summer.
Atkinson seems confident a return to traditional schedules and formats is not going to occur in 2021-2022, with less travel and other cost-saving measures expected to be in place.
“That will be important for us because there has certainly been a hit financially,” Atkinson said. “We’ll rebuild, but it’s been a tough year.”
Atkinson said he expects an efficient staffing model to be in place by this summer, one that meets league requirements for pulling off an altered season.
“We might have to modify how we do certain jobs, but we have requirements we have to meet to be in Canada West,” he said. “It will probably look a little bit different. I can’t say definitively at this time what all the roles will look like.”
The WolfPack have seven varsity teams — men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and soccer, along with swimming. Competitive seasons did not take place in 2020-2021.
Key fundraisers were wiped out, along with money-making sports camps.
There are ideas in motion to pull off fundraisers in 2021 and some sport-specific, performance-related camps will go ahead. TRU’s recreational sports camps are likely to remain sidelined this summer, Atkinson said.
“We’ve faced some huge challenges this year,” he said. “We learned about our group, the need to be adaptable and flexible. We’ve always said that. This year, we had to live it. The biggest thing for us is the resiliency of our group.”