It was a hard decision to cancel the men’s and women’s U Sports hockey championships after only playing two quarterfinal games. It was before safety precautions were ramped up and rates of COVID-19 were spiking in Canada.
The Huskies men’s team made it to Halifax and played on March 12, falling to the Western Mustangs and ending their season. But that night the organizers announced that they would cancel the games slated for that weekend — ending the season for all players.
“We understand the disappointment felt by our student athletes, coaches, officials and wonderful hosts,” said Lisette Johnson Stapley, U Sports chief sport officer. “However, the decision was made with the best interest of all participants in mind.”
The decision came after Hockey Canada announced it would discontinue games to protect the safety of all involved. Although earlier in the day, U Sports released a statement noting that, with the advice of Nova Scotia medical professionals, they would go ahead with the game.
Before the season ended prematurely, two Huskie athletes were celebrated at the annual All-Canadian gala, held just the night before. Forward Levi Cable was recognized as the most sportsmanlike player. Goaltender Taran Kozun was awarded both player of the year and goalie of the year.
The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt throughout the sports world, but Huskies Athletics is finding ways to adapt their summer operations.
Typically, the women’s soccer team would train twice a week until final exams and then start up again in August. Instead of training as a team, they now have workout routines to train on their own. And by using game videos from earlier in the season, they study their performance and reflect on how to improve, even if it is remotely.
“We’ve tried to be creative and be innovative,” said Jerson Barandica-Hamilton, head coach of the Huskies women’s soccer team. “I think we’re fortunate in that the technology that we have at our disposal nowadays makes it a lot more feasible to continue to move along and try to best connect with everyone.”
It is tough to maintain training individually, but staying connected and using Slack and video conferencing helps them maintain some of their regular life even through the disruptions of COVID-19.
“It gives us different ways of connecting, discussing and growing,” Barandica-Hamilton said. “I think that’s the most important piece that we don’t just stop. Because at the end of the day, hopefully there’s a light after this tunnel and we can get back to normality and be better for us as a group.”
Nykole King | Editor-in-Chief
Photo: Carter Folk. | GetMyPhoto.ca/HuskieAthletics