COVID-19 Closeup: Jeff Chcoski
Subject: Jeff Chcoski, general manager of the St. Catharines junior A Athletics.
What would you be doing with the A’s now if the pandemic hadn’t hit? We would be in the full swing of our season right now, playing three to four nights a week and trying to fit a couple of practices in. It is a busy schedule that goes by fast.
What are you doing now? Sitting by the pool with my two daughters, Samantha and Taylor, and my wife, Karen, enjoying the beautiful weather.
What is the biggest obstacle to doing your job during the pandemic? Not being able to see the players face-to-face in a group setting. I have kept in touch with the majority of the team the best I can but it is just not the same.
What do you miss the most about the pre-pandemic world of the Ontario Lacrosse Association? The thing I miss the most is the anticipation of getting to the rink whether at home or on the road and making sure that everything is in position for myself and my assistant general manager, Sean Howe, so that we can support our coaching staff and put our team in the best position to win, night after night.
What do you miss the least about the pre-pandemic world of the Ontario Lacrosse Association? The hectic life of running a junior A lacrosse team while trying to run my business, Niagara Brew Club, and spending time with my family.
What is the biggest thing wrong with junior A lacrosse that you can reveal without getting fired or demoted for your honesty? That is definitely a tough question because you do not want to cross any lines. I believe the game must be called at the junior A level similar to the National Lacrosse League (NLL). The off-ball hacks and whacks have to be called every time. That is the only way the culture will change.
Is there an easy way to fix the problem? A lot of the referees in our league are the same as the NLL. If they are consistent with the way they referee the pro games and our games, then it will force the players to adapt to the off-ball rules.
Is there a hard way to fix the problem? The hard way is coaching our team to follow the off-ball rules but if there isn’t consistent refereeing, then our team gets beat up and injured, putting us at risk of having a shorter bench and potentially losing games. Consistent refereeing of off-ball rules is the only way it will actually protect all players.
What would be one suggestion to make junior A lacrosse better? More exposure! Whether it is through savvy social media marketing or other techniques, getting lacrosse more well known would definitely improve junior A lacrosse. Imagine having the St. Catharines Athletics play in front of the same size crowds as the Niagara Ice Dogs. That would be amazing! It is becoming more well known and next year when we host the Minto Cup along side the Canadian Summer Games we are going to get new spectators out and hopefully create life-long fans of Canada’s national game.
Has the pandemic changed how you will approach your work? That is a wait and see question because we will be following the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) guidelines as they prepare for next season. The safety of our players, spectators and support staff comes first. That has never been more true than this year.
What is the first thing you are going to do when life returns to normal? A: Spend time with extended family and friends. Maybe appreciate the small things more often.
What daily activity do you miss the most? Being able to get to the rink and seeing our staff and team and working together to achieve the ultimate goal of working towards a national championship.
What guilty pleasure do you miss the most? Going out to a restaurant to eat! We are still supporting our local restaurants with lots of takeout.
What is your favourite outfit to wear around the house if you are working from home? Luckily, my business, the Niagara Brew Club, has been able to stay open during the pandemic but when I am home, I where lots of Athletics gear.
What do you do to replace the time spent working with the team? Gardening, swimming with my girls, walks with my wife and enjoying family BBQ dinners.
Are you mostly likely to be a hunk, chunk, drunk or Sasquatch when the pandemic ends? A hunk!?!
What is the worst habit you have picked up during the pandemic? Watching too much CNN.
What is the best habit you have picked up during the pandemic? Reducing my time on social media.
What is something good about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? I have learned that I am able to adapt to the pandemic social distancing rules — no handshakes and man hugs.
What is something bad about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? I have had to adapt to the pandemic social distancing rules — no handshakes and man hugs.
BPSN and the COVID-19 pandemic
Like all small businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, BPSN is not sure what the business landscape will look like when things return to normal. Our website is financed primarily through advertising revenues and partnership agreements with many local sports and educational organizations in Niagara. Our goal is to continue providing our readers with the extensive local sports coverage you have come to expect from our site. Since our inception, we have written more than 2,800 stories on our local athletes and teams. Many of our readers have given us one-time donations or send us monthly contributions to help offset our costs. We would be eternally grateful if others would consider doing the same by using the Support Us button located on the right-hand side of our home page below the mosaic.
Thank you for your continued support.
Bill and Bernie.