The West Nipissing Soccer League will be under new leadership this season as they look to return to action following a two-year layoff due to COVID.
After presiding over the club for 16-plus years, Linda Severin and husband Sean are stepping down due to time constraints.
“We talked about it over Christmas,” says Linda. “I have a job now where I work at 3 o’clock in the morning and there’s sometimes 10-to-12-hour days… I just don’t have the time that the kids would need to have a successful season.”
Along with help from their children, the family-run league grew over the Severin’s tenure, going from a few hundred kids to around 400 players at its peak. In 2019, the last active season before COVID, they had around 260 participants.
The 2020 season was cancelled in May of that year, a few months after COVID arrived in Canada. Then, with cases surging last spring, the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit recommended that the league not proceed with a 2021 season.
“To come again and say ‘No, there’s no season again,’ it’s heartbreaking to know that you disappointed these little guys,” says Linda.
Despite the last two years being lost, Severin says they were still getting people reaching out wondering if youth soccer would be back this summer. But first, the league needed to find a new president and Monique Savage was eager to step up once the Severins announced their decision in January.
“I have an eight- and 10-year-old and there’s nothing more that they love than to play soccer,” says Savage. “Now I have a nephew that’s three so he would love to play soccer as well, so it’s for them really that I said ‘Okay, I need to do something’ for them to be able to play.”
Though they’re stepping back, the Severins are still offering their help to Savage, to make sure it’s a smooth transition.
“It’s only been a week and I’ve found a lot of information in a week,” laughs Savage. “Good thing that we have Linda to be able to ask questions to.”
Savage reached out to the Health Unit as well to get their thoughts on running the league this year and says the outlook is positive – while also noting that the COVID situation can change quickly. But for now, they’re preparing as if they’ll be able to play this year.