Rams athletes rebalancing life as sports return

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By Dream Homer

After the cancellation of Ontario University Athletics due to COVID-19, student athletes who were recruited during the hiatus of sport have been forced to adapt to changes as normalcy returns. For many athletes, the pandemic was the first time they had gone a prolonged time without playing their respective sports. 

The break caused some student athletes to lose habits and routines they had maintained for so long.

“[Hockey] has always been something that’s been a comfort for me,” said Rams men’s hockey forward Elijah Roberts. “Not having that was pretty weird and it took a while to get used to. I almost forgot what it felt like to be doing that every day.” 

Kevin Gursoy, another forward for the men’s hockey team said he’s been playing the sport since he was four years old. He added that not playing hockey last winter was a “big change.” 

Gursoy and Roberts were accustomed to the routine of practices and games that hockey has given them. But for women’s soccer forward Journey Lashley, this was the first time she got a sense of life without her sport.

“Last year I was basically figuring out what I would do if I had to stop playing my sport,” said Lashley. “[It] was a year of figuring out what I like to do other than soccer.”

Quarantine served as a break for some student athletes, allowing them to explore other interests. It also gave others time to focus on relationships with friends and family, and possibly even maintaining a job. 

Gursoy explained that last year he learned how to manage his time better, which has helped him as he transitions back to in-person practices and games.

Before the onset of the pandemic, things like practicing every day, waking up early and balancing school were normal for student athletes. And while most classes remain online, many student athletes hadn’t even been on Ryerson’s campus until this fall semester.

However, they still have to adjust their schedules to make time for things like their social life and hobbies. Factors such as commuting and in-person classes now have to be considered in order for them to get to practice on time.

The Rams men’s hockey team practices every morning from 8 to 10 a.m., which Roberts said has forced him to change his sleeping habits. 

Regardless of the loss of sleep to get back into the athletics schedule, Roberts said the overall readjustment has been “good so far.”

Now that in-person activities are slowly returning, student athletes have to, once again, find time that might not be available to maintain relationships.  

“I definitely have to cut back on certain things, but I still take the time on weekends to just have fun and not over-stress myself,” Lashley said.

Rams athletes have also sought guidance from their coaches and older teammates as they continue to adapt to the changes. Lashley said her coach made herself available to her players for any problems or issues during the season, even last year during lockdown.

Gursoy, Lashley and Roberts all expressed that balancing school and sport is nothing new, but keeping a positive attitude has helped them adjust to pre-pandemic times after athletics were cancelled last year.

“What kept me through this was knowing that eventually, we were going to get through this and get back to playing,” Roberts said.

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