Athletes are facing the ultimate test with COVID-19. With all competitive sport seasons being cancelled, universities are trying to organize inter-school exhibition matches and scrimmages, going above and beyond public health guidelines in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
Although competitive seasons have been cancelled for the entirety of the 2020-21 academic year, student athletes are making the most out of a bad situation.
Christian Christie, STU men’s volleyball starting left side, said there’s a bit of disappointment, as the team wants to compete for banners and championships.
“At the end of the day it’s outside of our control, what is in our control is going to the gym and getting to practice, so that’s what we’re focusing on right now,” said Christie.
Some teams, such as STU’s women hockey and volleyball, have been able to do full on exhibition matches with webcasting, whereas others have been doing game-like scrimmages. The decision to do one or the other is ultimately up to the head coach of each team. Some matches have been filmed and posted on YouTube afterwards.
To remedy the shortcomings of real games this season, teams have also opted to incorporate more inner team matches throughout their training.
“We play a lot more scrimmages within our own team. We don’t necessarily have to save our legs for the weekend like when we had real games, so we create more game-like situations in practice,” said Christie.
Mike Eagles, the St. Thomas University athletics director, said COVID-19 protocol trumps all decision-making.
“Venues have their own stipulation because each one is different,” said Eagles. “For instance, with the Currie Center versus Lady Beaverbrook Gym, the capacity is different.”
Eagles said for an event to take place, both teams and the city need to approve and all participants must be screened for COVID-19.
Still, he said it’s a huge deal for athletes to have the chance to compete against one another.
“I’m confident in saying that these athletes are thrilled to be playing at all,” said Eagles. “I’m so happy for the athletes, they’re practicing to play, so without that end goal it’s tough to stay disciplined.”