Bryn Robins (left) dunking a basketball. Sophie Milley (right) with a soccer trophy.
In the past two years, the unpredictable pandemic has caused more cancellations and postponements than anyone could have imagined. Athletes are among those who have been particularly affected by all this, as rescheduling has become a regular occurrence, and many sports have been scrapped part way through seasons. Even when practices have been allowed, games, tournaments, and events have often been considered too much of a risk. At these times, players were limited to training with just their teams.
2022 has shown promise in the return to “normal” sports, but athletes are still feeling the consequences of a disjointed past two years. I decided to speak with some multi-sport athletes at Nepean to learn how their athletics have been affected by the pandemic.
First I spoke with my sister, Sophie Milley (Grade 10), who plays sports both at school and as part of local leagues. Over the past two years she has participated in soccer, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, tennis, and downhill skiing. As an active member of the athletic community she has experienced many effects of the pandemic on her regular activities, particularly her competitive soccer team. Her club has done Zoom workouts, in person practices with players each in individual squares, and no-contact drills, before finally returning to scrimmages. As Milley’s soccer is year-round, she tells me there were many big gaps between sessions because of lockdowns and ever-changing local public health regulations. As for school sports, she tried out for the volleyball team prior to Winter break (early December 2021) and they were unable to continue the assessments until late January. There were no school sports teams for the year of 2020-2021.
When unable to play during the pandemic, her main go to exercise was at-home workouts from YouTube videos. Milley says with sports as a core part of her identity, it was difficult to remedy that with individual training. She missed events like tournaments where there’s a lot of adrenaline and it’s a much different experience than any workout could provide.
Milley further expressed the importance of sports in her life, telling me, “Sports give me a type of energy that I wouldn't be able to get from anything else…there's nothing like being part of a team and knowing that you’ve participated in and you were a part of that win or that goal.”
In the future, she looks forward to the atmosphere of a cheering crowd at school sporting events which she describes as an unbeatable environment.
Likewise, Bryn Robins (Grade 12), basketball and rugby player as well as cross-country runner, tells me that crowds provide an excellent ambience and atmosphere, and he sees the value in being uplifted and having the opportunity to feed off the crowd’s energy. He says his teams can be influenced by the energy at games and he did feel a difference once spectators were allowed to watch.
Robins’s team sports experienced more limitations than cross-country, as his tackle rugby became flag to limit contact, and he had no tournaments for the season. He says his basketball teams did not get changed much but they were cancelled for the better part of a year. At home, he tried indoor biking and weight workouts but mainly basic fitness as he waited for his sports to return and fill their void.
Robins explains that, “Sport and physical activity has a positive bearing on my life. It teaches me about being social…being part of a team and partaking in team physical activity allows me to be a better me in all facets of life.” He goes on to say that sports help with time management, organisation and managing stress levels. They’re an important part of his life and he encourages everyone to participate, especially young kids who should get involved early on.
Overall, both athletes feel excited by the way things are trending and are optimistic about a more normalised future for athletics.