Gaels seek edge

Queen's teams face summer challenges

Men’s rowing captain Rami Maassarani begins training at 5:15am every day.
Men’s rowing captain Rami Maassarani begins training at 5:15am every day.

Men’s rowing captain Rami Maassarani is on the water at the Kingston Rowing Club seven days a week. For him and many other Gaels, the end of the school year doesn’t signify a time to rest.

“We’re on the water at least once a day, usually twice,” said Maassarani, who’s entering his fifth season with the Gaels.

In addition to two or three weight-lifting sessions a week, rowers cross-train through a variety of other exercises, including running and cycling.

The greatest obstacle the Queen’s team faces over the summer season is a lack of available bodies, which leads to an extended adjustment period when the team reconvenes in the fall.

Unlike Queen’s, many OUA teams are composed primarily of students from the area, allowing them to train together during the school off-season. Most Gaels rowers return home for the summer months, preventing them from training in larger crews.

In team sports such as soccer and rugby, players can continue to play in competitive leagues at home. Rowers, conversely, are separated from the same team environment with their hometown clubs. Water training sessions are instead focused on improving individual times and technique.

“You have to trust that everyone else on the team is putting in the same amount of work as you are, for the same common goal — the OUA title,” Maassarani said.

The Queen’s wrestling team faces a similar exodus during the summer, which allows its members to concentrate on personal fitness training.

Most wrestlers tailor their off-season workout plans around maintaining or dropping mass in order to slot into a certain weight category for the upcoming season. Many are eager to cut weight in order to use their existing strength to their advantage.

“I’m trying to go down one category because I feel more comfortable using my strength against smaller girls,” said Yi Quan, a third-year wrestler on the Gaels women’s team.

To drop weight while maintaining strength, Quan and her teammates focus their workouts on endurance and power.

“Wrestling matches are only two minutes long, so you have to do a lot of explosive workouts,” Quan said. “I think strength is the main component.”

Although the Queen’s team trains with the Kingston Wrestling Club during the OUA season, their partnership ends for the summer.

To combat the monotony of individual weight training, wrestlers work out in pairs or find ways to train outside of the gym — Quan, for instance, works as a lifeguard.

Gaels lacrosse players also face their own unique offseason challenges.

Although Canadian teams compete in field lacrosse in the fall, there are no organized outdoor leagues in the summer. University players are forced to turn to box lacrosse, which is played indoors on a floor the size of a hockey rink.

“Field lacrosse is a lot more strategic,” said Zane Yassein, who’s going into his second season with the Queen’s men’s team. “Since the playing surface is so big, you can spread out and run more plays. Box is much faster-paced, and you’re only on the floor for short bursts. You really have to rely on instinct and vision.”

Because box lacrosse is played in a significantly smaller area than field lacrosse, passing and shooting skills are greatly enhanced.

Although Yassein won’t suit up in a competitive field game until he returns to Kingston in September, he believes that a summer spent indoors will only benefit himself and his teammates.

“Once you’ve made the transition to field lacrosse, the skills developed from playing box definitely make you a better all-around player.”

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