Returning from the pandemic-induced pause

Head coaches Claire Meadows and Gabriel deGroot discuss season resumption

Head coaches Claire Meadows and Gabriel deGroot spoke to The Journal about returning to play after nearly two months away.

After the OUA paused competition across university sport in response to the pandemic, athletes and coaches across the province will return to play on Feb. 9.

In preparation for the resumption of the 2021-22 season, The Journal spoke to Claire Meadows, head coach of the Women’s Basketball team, and Gabriel deGroot, head coach of Men’s Volleyball team, to learn about how their teams have managed the pause and their thoughts on the rest of the season.

“[The team] has been incredibly resilient and positive through this entire pandemic, so I framed it as just another little bump in the road that we have to get over,” Meadows said.

Since late December, Meadows has been focused on her team’s performance both on and off the court, as the break allowed her to concentrate on the program in its entirety.

“We kind of split our weeks up into three different parts to stay on course and prepare for the rest of the season,” Meadows said.

“We’ve been doing a lot of film, breaking down pass schemes, looking at that in terms of our systems and our concepts.”

She also mentioned her team’s focus on its culture and its role in the broader community.

“We did a land acknowledgement in the first semester […] we’ve replaced ‘O Canada’ with a land acknowledgement and our team wrote our own land acknowledgment […] We left a space for initiatives we want to do to be more engaged and have more of an impact in terms of what we’re doing in the community.”

Focusing on the court and the games ahead, Meadows discussed how she sees her team progressing once play resumes. Queen’s currently sits in fifth place in the OUA East standings, tied with Laurentian and York.

“A lot of our focus in the first semester was placed on our defence, […] that’s going to remain a big focus going forward […] Our approach to defence just has to be a bit more aggressive and we need to be able to generate more offense from our defence.”

Turning to Men’s Volleyball, deGroot had a similar message about the effect of the pause on his team and his plans for returning to action.

“Obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve been through this in the past couple of years, so being able to pivot quickly and shift things to at-home workouts […] was pretty important,” deGroot explained.

“Disappointing nonetheless, and I think our team has struggled with it, but managed it the best they could given the situation.”

To stay in playing shape, deGroot’s team has been hard at work away from the gym to ensure the smoothest transition possible once restrictions are lifted.

“In volleyball, the easiest metric is jump volume to measure load. We work with a metric whereby we calculate acute chronic workout and acute chronic ratios,” deGroot said on his approach to managing training sessions to improve performance while preventing injuries.

“As much as it’s restrictive to do bodyweight programming or strength and conditioning with minimal weights, minimal equipment, they have been doing everything they can be doing.”

Despite the lay-off, Coach deGroot is confident in his team’s ability to execute on the court. Heading into the pause, the Men’s Volleyball team had a perfect record.

“I think regardless of who we play or how the games are scheduled, I think we have a very good chance to finish first in the East and put ourselves in a really good position to contend for an OUA championship again.”

The Women’s Basketball team returns to the hardwood on Feb. 11 against the uOttawa Gee-Gees and the Men’s Volleyball team will be looking to extend their perfect record on Feb. 13 against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

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