Coquitlam Minor Lacrosse defends decision on cash refunds due to pandemic

Season isn't yet officially cancelled but parents are being offered an 80% credit towards registration next year

The president of Coquitlam Minor Lacrosse Association (CMLA) said it will consider requests on a case-by-case basis for cash refunds of registration fees for the 2020 box season that’s been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Garrett Ungaro said that because of the expenses the association has already incurred — like player insurance fees, certification courses for coaches and referees, and the acquisition of equipment like shorts and balls — most families will receive only an 80% credit towards next season’s registration fees.

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Some have expressed dismay that other associations like New Westminster Minor Lacrosse have been able to issue 100% refunds. One told The Tri-City News that families facing financial challenges because of job losses during the pandemic are especially feeling the pinch.

But, Ungaro said, CMLA’s unique position as a league exclusively for box lacrosse means it gets less money from BC Lottery gaming grants than some neighbouring associations that offer both the indoor game and field lacrosse.

“These clubs can utilize the higher gaming grant funds they receive to offset expenses,” Ungarro told The Tri-City News, adding those expenses amounted to about $80,000 before the season was halted.

Ungarro said the association is also in a bit of a bind because the BC Lacrosse Association hasn’t officially cancelled the season and lacrosse has been identified as one of three sports being considered for a “return to activity,” as the province begins its phased recovery from shutdowns brought on since March by the pandemic.

“At any moment, the BCLA could indicate that we are able to start programming for a certain age-group or division, and we would be expected to deliver this programming,” Ungarro said. He added he expects at least some of the more than 650 kids registered to play lacrosse this summer in Coquitlam will get a chance to hit the floor.

Other sports are in a similar predicament. 

Softball is officially on hold until June 1 and Port Coquitlam Minor Softball recently sent a survey to its families to determine player availability should the schedule resume later in the summer, as well as polled them about allocating their registration fees.

Sandon Fraser, the president of Coquitlam Little League, said in a statement on its website that the organization is working on issuing cheques for full refunds to the more than 600 families with kids registered to play baseball. He said he’s hopeful some baseball could yet be played this summer.

Still, Ungarro said, his association doesn’t want to cause hardship to any of its families.

“I am really hopeful that once certain decisions are made, we can review our expenses and then see if we can increase the amount of refund back to the members.”

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