Jasmine McKnight
As a player in a leadership position, the call to stop practicing was not an easy one to make. Image: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum
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COVID-19 made the 2020-21 season memorable

Every year I’ve been a Gee-Gee has been a memorable one. Every season, there has been a lesson I’ve learned, games — good and bad — that I’ll never forget, and new teammates that have grown to be my closest friends. 

I hate that one of the most memorable parts of last season was our last practice, knowing that our upcoming tournament was cancelled because of travel restrictions and growing concerns over the COVID-19 situation. 

I threw my cleats in my backpack, clueless to the reality that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete against another team for over a year — and counting.

The 2020-21 season, or lack of, will stick in my memory for different reasons. 

I spent the summer hoping that we, the University of Ottawa women’s ultimate frisbee team, would be able to practice as usual and prepare for the Canadian University Ultimate Championships, one of my favourite weekends in the entire year. 

Practice didn’t come without precautions, including a virtual safety presentation, waivers, sanitizing breaks, and season-long training pods. 

I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know the rookies on the team, we didn’t have the opportunity to play the game as it was made to be played. We were just doing our best to make it work. 

The year also came with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty that I’m still struggling to deal with. 

When are we going to practice again? When are we going to get to play games? When will tournaments and championship weekends be back in the picture? 

While communication wasn’t necessarily an issue, there were a lot of moving parts. Between nationwide rules, Ontario’s restrictions, Ottawa Public Health guidelines, and what the university would do in order to protect athletes and staff, it was clear early on that there was little hope for games to be played, practice restrictions to be lifted, and for the season to be anywhere near normal. 

As a player in a leadership position, the call to stop practicing was not an easy one to make, but unfortunately necessary as restrictions tightened and attendance dropped. 

I didn’t expect it to take this long. I thought we’d be back in action after a few months. 

At no point did I think I’d go a year without putting on my garnet and grey jersey and hitting the field to compete. It’s been over a year since my team has played a game, and that is something that I cannot wrap my head around. 

It’s not just my own team and my own competition I miss, it’s looking down the windows of Montpetit Hall on the way to class and seeing the basketball teams practice, or sitting in the rink with my friends and laughing at the intermission activities during hockey games. It’s bigger things like the Panda Game or the Capital Hoops Classic, cheering for fellow Gee-Gees. 

Without university sports, it’s been quiet. 

There is an endless list of things I miss, starting with the practice grind, pushing my body and mind to be the best it can be, road trips, post-tournament team photos, and eating dinner as a team. 

While this year’s lack of a season has been an opportunity to find other things I enjoy, a chance to focus on other aspects of my life, and it’s reminded me how much I love sports and love the game I play. I am looking forward to the day there’s an announcement that we’re able to go back to our regular routine. 

I hope that day comes soon, and that my teammates and I can put on the Gee-Gees uniform and compete like we used to.