Student athletes' training regimens rise above pandemic

How Queen’s Gaels are improvising their off-season training

Queen's athletes are continuing to find motivation during the pandemic.
Queen's athletes are continuing to find motivation during the pandemic.
While many may have loosened their workout regimens due to COVID-19, the same doesn’t go for varsity athletes. With access to athletic facilities put on hold, The Journal reached out to Gaels to get a sense of how they’re maintaining peak performance amidst a pandemic.
The consensus among the student athletes is that while the pandemic has presented challenges to their off-season plans, they’ve been able to adapt effectively. 
Erik Siksna, a second-year on the men’s volleyball team and U-Sports Rookie of the Year, told The Journal he had his sights set on the national junior team this summer, which has now been tabled. 
“There’s no doubt that this offseason has been and will continue to be very different from the offseason that many of us planned for,” he wrote in a statement. “[T]hese plans are no longer on the table, which now puts me in a difficult situation for getting offseason reps in.”
The closure of gyms has also led the outside hitter to get creative with make-shift equipment around the house. 
“I’ve been able to find ways to train just as hard as […] I planned on this offseason. Two months in and the piano bench—now my workout bench—is still holding up,” Siksna said. 
Claire Ellison of the women’s rowing team echoed the difficulties of suddenly shifting training regimens. But like Siksna, she’s found her groove. 
“I personally found the first few weeks following in-class cancelations the most difficult time during the pandemic so far,” Ellison wrote to The Journal. “I missed having practices with my teammates, a constant class schedule, and my well-defined routine. Once I found a new, very different routine, I found it much easier to get back at it with training.”
While many students may be catching up on much-needed sleep after a stressful semester, athletes haven’t been able to let off the gas. 
Sophie de Goede, dual-sport athlete on Queen’s rugby and basketball teams, said her typical weekday starts before the sun rises.
“Our local rugby club has a private gym that we can use one at a time, so I get up at 5:15 every morning and bike there early before other people start wanting to come in,” she wrote to The Journal.
“After the gym, I do conditioning on the field and bike back for breakfast. Then I do schoolwork [until] mid-afternoon when I get shots up at the outdoor court near my house and/or do rugby skills in the backyard with my parents.”
Tyler Gowdy, a fifth-year Goalkeeper for men’s soccer, now finds himself busier than during the semester, balancing a full-time landscaping gig while getting his reps in.
“Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I’ll do sprints in the morning, and then I’ll lift weights in the evening. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, I’ll do a technical session in the morning, and then I’ll do a tempo run n the evening,” he wrote. “I work between 40-50 hours a week doing landscaping, so my time is exclusively devoted to training and working other than reading whenever I get the chance.”
A consistent sentiment among athletes was their off-seasons have been largely dependent on Queen’s Strength and Conditioning (S&C) to tailor athlete-specific workouts depending on available equipment. 
Liam Varvaris, lock on the men’s rugby team, is confident he’ll return to campus in top form.
“Not having access to equipment or teammates to work on these skills with has made [training] difficult. [S&C] have been really great providing all athletes with a program that we can do from home with varying levels of equipment. So, I really haven’t had to worry about whether I’ll be in shape come the start of season”.
As for finding motivation for a season that may not happen, the Gaels remain undaunted and know their hard work will pay dividends when the time comes. 
“The pandemic’s impact regarding the uncertainty of the season hasn’t affected my motivation to train at all,” Gowdy said. “Even if there is no season, that just means I’ll have even more time to keep working like a dog and to prepare for my next opportunity.”

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