The Grand Return to Sport
by: Derek Marshall
As the saying goes, you don’t really know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Many members of the University of Windsor community find this to be true when it comes to Lancers sports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined the traditional sport competitions that are usually part of the campus buzz. It’s contributed to this dearth of campus experience – we all feel it, not just the students. Looking forward, however, this break from varsity athletics may result in a revitalized appreciation for campus athletic competitions. Could this be a rare silver lining in what’s been a pretty dark cloud?
Players are more eager than ever before to get in the gym with their team and practice.
Coaches are excited to break the Zoom barrier and instruct their squads in person.
Lancer Athletic event staff members are ready to execute engaging sport spectacles for the students that are eager to attend.
During a typical year, varsity athletes tend to dedicate a lot of their time to practicing for their sport of choice. Day-in and day-out. It’s the way it goes – just pick any athlete on any team and they’d back me up. Mornings, nights, weekends, whatever. It’s routine.
With routine comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes comfort. Unfortunately, comfort creates laziness. Now I’m not calling our varsity athletes lazy by any means, I’m merely stating that it would require almost inhuman mental fortitude to push yourself to the point of betterment nearly every day for four months straight. Some of our prized athletes have surely “mailed it in” during this practice routine and not giving it their best effort. That’s human nature, even for varsity athletes.
However, now that our athletes have been starved of the opportunity to refine their skills at practice alongside teammates for months on end, they look forward to and visualize how hard they will train upon the easement of restrictions.
Practices might be more intense than ever. The opportunity to train is now seen as a precious gift that our athletes will cherish. Upon the return to competition, the opportunity for the student body to come out and watch our Lancers play will be viewed in a similar light. The campus community might not take things for granted moving forward either.
We’re a commuter campus. As a commuting student, the drive to school was once viewed as a chore. Finding a parking spot was tedious. Walking from that parking spot to class on a cold, windy day, well that was just down-right annoying. Fast forward one pandemic year:
Commuting students have been at home with mom and dad, perhaps brothers and sisters, for a year now, and it is slowly driving them insane.
They look back to how good they had it when they could escape the confines of home and blast their favourite music on the drive. How nice it was to be surrounded by like-minded students in the bustling halls of the CAW Centre; they think about what they would do for an opportunity to socialize in a fun and inclusive atmosphere.
And what about the first-year students living in residence?
They’ve moved to Windsor from who knows where, to have a drastically different university experience than any year prior. No homecoming football match, no “D-what? DEFENSE!” chants from the bleachers of a basketball game, and no feeling of belonging in a sea of blue and gold in the St. Denis Centre.
The fact is, no matter what your demographic is on campus, I think most members of the University of Windsor community have felt a degree of separation over the past year. I know I have.
And even the folks that never attended a varsity game in their student life might be missing the experience – an experience they never even had. Perhaps it’s more about missing the opportunity for experience.
So, when the inevitable return to play occurs and our revved-up Lancer squads take the field, court, or arena, I’m willing to bet there will be some new supporters in the crowd. Whether it is commuting students avoiding their families and to socialize with friends, residence students getting their first taste of the real university experience, or anyone between, one thing is certain: the return of sport will be special.