Queen’s varsity teams & clubs get gradual green light to begin training

Varsity activity to start on Sept. 14, but not without adjustments

Amost all varsity activity will take place in ARC South.
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Queen’s teams can expect to hit the ground running next Monday.

A brief timeline, which was released Sept. 3, follows as such: varsity team activity will start on Sept. 14, when strength and conditioning training at outdoor venues is allowed. On Sep. 21, strength and conditioning at indoor venues will be open to teams. On Oct. 1, sport-specific technical training will begin. Access to Queen’s Sports Medicine, services begin sometime after Oct. 1 via appointment only. 

Varsity clubs will have to wait for their own timeline, which is expected to begin in early October.

Return-to-Sport (R2S) plans are being developed by coaches to be approved by the Athletics and Recreation (A&R) R2S Committee, as different sports will have different sanctioned activities. If an athlete plays a sport that requires physical contact, such as basketball, it will be modified to meet provincial government, public health, and University guidelines. 

No matter the sport, accessing facilities and training within them will be different from past years. A&R’s plan is to host almost all team activity in ARC South’s High Performance Centre (HPC), the addition which was completed in 2019. Change rooms and team rooms aren’t available this fall. 

Some rooms and sport-specific practice facilities have been closed entirely. If an athlete plays a sport which requires the combative room, squash courts, or rowing ergometer room, other spaces and facilities have been made available for modified training where possible. A&R plans on reinstating these closed spaces when it is deemed safe to do so.  

Sports like football which play out of a local external venue, like Richardson Memorial Stadium, will be able to use them assuming the venue modifies their operations and complies with provincial government and public health guidelines. A&R is working with the City of Kingston and other external facility providers to determine facility availability and access.

Even if players live together, in the initial stages of reopening activities will be limited to individual-based activities only. ARC and A&R staff aren’t permitted to determine whether groups of individuals live together.

U SPORTS and the OUA haven’t made any decisions about whether winter or two-term sports will happen. A decision is anticipated for early or mid-October. 

Training allowances vary from sport to sport. Indoor sports, especially ones that require close contact, like basketball, will be hard to accommodate for or modify.

“The issue with basketball is we have to figure out a way that we can do it and stay six feet apart from each other. We’re always moving in line with what the provincial requirements are and what the public health guidelines are,” Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation Leslie Dal Cin told The Journal.

Scrimmaging, getting competitive, and gelling as a team will prove difficult. 

“Our varsity basketball teams, they are allowed to train, but they’re only allowed to train in individual skill activities. They won’t be scrimmaging or doing two on two, or three on three, or any of that until the provincial regulations and public health guidelines allow us to do that.” 

On the other hand, outdoor sports have slightly more leeway in terms of practicing as a team.

The men’s rugby team has been working on its R2S plan for about six weeks. Although Kingston is in phase three of reopening, the rugby team has decided to use a phase two-style reopening plan to ensure students’ safety. 

The plan is to work in cohorts: divide the field in half with 10 people in each 60 foot by 50 foot space. Cohorts won’t train with other cohorts. That way, if there was a positive case of COVID-19, contact tracing would be easier.

Players will also be wearing masks while training. A rugby ball is the only equipment that they’ll use, and it will be sanitized multiple times during each session.

“Our priority is one, to make sure we return to sport safely and two, to engage all of the athletes in activity. If we can tick both of those boxes off, I think we’re in a really good place,” men’s rugby Head Coach David Butcher told The Journal. 

“[Our mindset is this]: let’s make the most of this. Let’s stay productive. Let’s set goals for the team, for individuals, while recognizing the limitations that we’ve got now […]. Let’s do the best that we can with the limitations we’ve got.”

 

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