Coping During COVID: One Athlete’s Journey

COVID-19 has upended life as we know it, and the world of sport has not been immune. From the birth of the Olympics in Ancient Greece to the evolution of amateur and professional sport today, sport is our proverbial glue; it binds, it unites, and it is a constant in our communities.

With the onslaught of COVID-19, life with sport was threatened, and the ensuing void undeniable. For me, as a sprinter and hurdler, it meant years of training, set to culminate in the 2020 track and field season was lost, as were any hopes and goals attached to them. 

As with any threat, how we internalize and approach situations will determine its outcome. With restrictions tightening, I found myself on the cusp of losing my high school career. As an athlete, watching what you cherish slip away is not an easy task. Closed tracks and gyms have led to a shift to home gyms and neighbourhood jogs. My track goals, now more modest but just as rewarding, have given me a renewed appreciation for the rich fall foliage lining our streets – an unexpected benefit of those neighbourhood runs.

Lauren Training

Training during a pandemic takes shape in hard work and determination. I have taken strides to demonstrate my resilience and loyalty to the sport through this trying time. Duplicating the camaraderie of the gym in my own home has been one of the most powerful tools in staying physically and mentally sound. In doing so, I have regained a sense of control during this time of instability.

For the broader sports fan, professional leagues pivoted to a new normal as well, with two hockey host cities to close out the NHL season and the NBA bubble offering three months of riveting basketball. Collectively, they offered an undeniable spark to encourage athletes to stay active.

More than simply an activity, sport is a way of life uniting us with a bond able to withstand any threat, including COVID-19.

Story by Lauren Neil, a Grade 11 student at The Country Day School and resident of Aurora. In her first appearance at OFSAA in Grade 9, Lauren set a school record in the 100m and narrowly missed the hurdle record by two tenths of a second.