Benson Garchinski of the St. Thomas University men’s volleyball team was heartbroken last spring when fans were escorted out of the Grant Harvey Center during team warm-ups. Garchinski said their head coach, Henri Mallet, told the team “some things” were happening and there would be no audience for their game. STU played the host role for the 2020 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s volleyball nationals last March.
The first case of COVID-19 in New Brunswick had arrived. Schools and universities shut down and social distancing had began.
“I remember looking to [my] left and right during ‘O Canada!’ and the guys were pretty deflated,” Garchinski said.
“But then we pulled it together and gave them a good show and then reset for the next game.”
There were questions of what the future of sports would be following the outbreak of COVID-19, as leagues were put on hold. During the summer, the CCAA announced all sports in the fall semester would be cancelled.
Since then, a major concern for some current student-athletes was whether their athletic-scholarships would be affected or not. Garchinski’s scholarship pays for his residence fees.
Mike Eagles, STU athletics director, put those questions to rest, saying those benefiting off of athletic-scholarships will be able to keep them, as long as they meet criteria. This includes being on a roster, attending class and keeping a minimum 2.0 GPA.
The cancellation of sports in the first semester means that STU’s fall season sports, such as rugby, soccer and cross-country, won’t take place.
“There still potentially could be sports in January. So we’re awaiting decisions on hockey, basketball, volleyball, for instance,” said Eagles.
Garchinski said the men’s volleyball team will begin training Oct. 1, which was a factor into his decision to come back to STU.
“My biggest thing was thing was I was just hoping we would be able to practice,” he said.
Garchinski recognizes his main priority is to earn his education while attending school, but he said volleyball is a way for him to take his mind off of things.
“Obviously the situation is bigger than sports right now … but I was concerned about if there were still going to be practices or is there still going to be team stuff,” he said.
Another factor was if the season does start in the second semester, athletes will not lose a year of their CCAA eligibility, which allows them to participate for five seasons.
Eagles said if student-athletes can meet criteria, they will be fine.
“The athlete is in school and if they meet that criteria within … they just have to meet the criteria that’s already pre-built into the scholarship,” Eagles said. to be
The future of the Tommies is uncertain but Garchinski remains optimistic about the opportunity to practice.
“I think everybody is just happy in being able to focus on the first semester,” he said.
“When it gets to January, we’ll go from there and hopefully something happens.”