Morton and the Gee-Gees women’s soccer team continue to practice at a high level despite cancellation of 2020 season
Mikayla Morton has earned herself a long list of accomplishments while playing for the University of Ottawa’s women’s soccer team. From all-star acknowledgements, to a national championship, and of course, winning the 2019 FISU University World Cup, Morton has achieved plenty wearing Grey and Garnet.
COVID-19 cut the Gee-Gees successful Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) Indoor Soccer season early during the 2020 winter semester.
“We ended up doing really well in the RSEQ winter league, but it got cut short because of COVID-19,” Morton said.
With the 2019-2020 season coming to a close, and classes transitioning to an online format, Morton returned home to Courtice, Ont.
“I’m not sure what a lot of the girls on the team did, but when I went home, I really didn’t have anyone to train with. You couldn’t train at the beginning of quarantine because you had to stay at home, but I actually ended up working out like a lot with one of my old teammates, which kept me in shape.”
In June, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) announced the cancellation of all sanctioned sport programming and championships until Dec. 31, 2020. This meant the end of the Gee-Gees fall soccer season before it even began.
“I was trying to be super motivated with things like working out every day. Then I got the call that the season was cancelled and honestly, I think for most people that just totally destroyed our motivation during the summer,” Morton said.
“I was extremely upset when I found out – I cried. I was so upset because it was my last year and I didn’t really realize my last game was going to be my last game. Honestly, right now, it still doesn’t sit well with me.”
Despite the heartbreaking announcement, the team bounced back.
“It was just so upsetting, obviously. But after a little bit, a lot of girls were like, well, we still have to be training and we still have to stay in shape.“
Now, the Gee-Gees are hitting the field and practicing under the Ontario Health and the University’s safety regulations. The 2019-2020 roster is joined by new recruits and alumni as they train without a scheduled season in sight.
Gee-Gees head coach, Steve Johnson, acknowledged the quality of training despite the lack of a 2020-2021 season.
“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a season this year because our roster is very strong,” Johnson said, “The quality of training is very good.”
“We’re still training now, and hopefully are able to play exhibition games and stuff,” Morton said.
“It’s just so different and weird right now, I don’t know how I feel. It’s definitely like a hurdle to get over. But I think in a couple weeks, I’ll be back in a routine. The girls coming in are hard working which helps with the level of play but also some of the vets and alumni are training with us, which is also really helpful keeping the level of play at the highest it can be.”
“Having Mikayla’s presence is really important for the younger players to see and understand what type of quality you have to be in order to be successful,” Johnson said.
Morton is currently completing her final two classes before graduating with a degree in psychology. Morton is interested in pursuing speech pathology, meaning she will need to work on a master’s degree. But off the field, Morton wasn’t exactly sure what she was working towards.
“Because it was my last season, I didn’t really know what I was working for but I actually got approached this summer by an agent to help me go play in Europe. So I’m hoping to actually go to Europe in January,” Morton said.
“I want to go and play in Europe for a couple years before I jump back into school again, because I’d rather go now while I’m fresh and ready, rather than wait.”
Morton has made a significant impact during her time as a Gee-Gee.
“She’s a very good finisher, she can score with her right foot, left foot, and her head,” Johnson said.
“She’s coming to the end of her career, but for several years our team play has been very good and Mikayla has been able to provide that finishing touch on the end of a lot of the good play we generate during games.
While practicing without playing games can be draining, Morton and her teammates continue to come to practice with the intention of working hard and competing at the highest level they can. Morton will keep training with the Gee-Gees as she finishes her studies and awaits her opportunity to cross the pond and play soccer in Europe.
“I have to make sure that I’m focused and still train as hard as I would if we were having a season if I’m trying to play in Europe in January.”