James Flemming. Photo: Parker Townes/Fulcrum
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Various teams are in different stages as both leagues and the university continue to  update guidelines

As COVID-19 carries on with bringing uncertainty in many aspects of our lives, sports is an area that continues to change in order to adapt to the growing situation. Various University of Ottawa teams that would usually begin their season in the fall are doing their best to shift their mindset appropriately. 

In June, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) announced the cancellation of all sanctioned sports programming until the end of Dec. 2020 leaving a handful of Gee-Gees teams to shift their focus to their 2021 seasons.

Daniel Oladejo, a wide receiver on the Gee-Gees football team, explained the team’s feelings  upon hearing the announcement regarding the cancellation of the 2020 season. 

“When we heard the season was cancelled it was obviously upsetting. We put a lot of time into this and we look forward to the next season when the previous season ends,” Oladejo said. 

During the off-season, the team welcomed new head coach, Marcel Bellefeuille, to lead the team. For Oladejo, having extra time to develop a strong team-coach relationship is a benefit. 

“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise that we get a full year to get acquainted with him and everything he’s trying to get us doing,” Oladejo said. 

“We can take advantage of the whole year and get on a different level than we were before.” 

While the team has no scheduled games until next fall, they continue practicing throughout September and November. The team looks to take their game further, while getting familiar with each other, and learn what their new coach plans to implement. . 

Like the football team, the women’s rugby team and men’s rugby teams are partaking in practices. These teams, along with others in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), are hitting the field with the hope that they will be able to compete in the next month. 

“Quebec teams are already starting to hit and do scrums where we can only pass and we still have to social distance,” said James Flemming, a player on the men’s rugby team. 

“We’re still running our training camp, and the guys are hitting the field and in the gym like crazy.”

Rachel McCallan, a fifth-year player on the women’s rugby team, shared the positives and negatives of the current situation. 

“We do have to follow Ontario guidelines and what the university has allowed us to do with hopes that we will get to play. We’re still not doing body-on-body contact in order to follow guidelines and keep our physical distances,” she said. 

“Sometimes I wish things were how they were at previous training camps, but what we’re doing now has so many benefits we didn’t have before. Our team is so much more connected on a relationship level that it’s making our rugby better.” 

Both teams are waiting on decisions to be made by RSEQ regarding the season. An announcement is expected in the next two weeks. From there, it is up to the University of Ottawa whether or not Gee-Gees teams will be able to participate, and under what regulations.  

“What we can control is the fact that we can work hard, support each other, and get better everyday. What we can’t control is the decision that ultimately comes from powers above us,” Flemming said. 

“We’re just progressing like we normally would until we find out in the next two weeks,” added McCallan. 

“Obviously it’s not easy to have the uncertainty, it is a little stressful not knowing what my fifth year is going to look like.” 

As the rugby teams await decisions on their seasons, both the men’s and women’s ultimate frisbee teams are going forward with practicing under the university’s guidelines as they wait to hear whether they will get the opportunity to play in 2020.. 

“Ultimate Canada has basically cancelled everything for 2020 which means that our season is pretty well over, but we still plan on training with the hopes of playing in 2021,” said Simon Walker, a captain on the men’s ultimate team. 

“When we actually do come back to play we need to know that we can do it safely,” he added.

Many teams are in the same boat, doing as much practicing and training as they can while staying safe through the uncertainty of both the fall season and the new year. As time goes on, athletes will be adapting to ongoing changes in guidelines and regulations put out by the OUA, RSEQ, Ontario Ministry of Health,Ottawa Public Health and the University of Ottawa.