COVID-19 Closeup: Sharon Stewart
Subject: Sharon Stewart, Niagara Olympic Club president and coach.
What would you be doing right now with track and field if the pandemic hadn’t hit? Today (June 4) is a sad day for me as a coach. I would be at Day 1 of three at the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) track and field championships. It would be a hot and steamy weekend in Toronto and the coaches would be so pumped for our athletes. I would probably be trying to keep some “moms” calm. As an administrator with the Niagara Olympic Club, I would be making sure the school track meets at the NOC facility were staffed and stocked with lots of Freezies, our biggest seller at concession.
What are you doing now in relation to track and field? As the co-lead for athletics for the Canada Summer Games 2021, I am busy with planning and office work. We average four meetings per month. It is challenging because we are doing it by video conference and it would be much more fun to meet all the new people in person. We have such a terrific team of people to work with. As a club, we are on the very edge of returning to team training. The province announced track and field as one of the sports that could return under the protocol of the sports governing body, which is Athletics Ontario. We are getting our ducks lined up for the big day. It will be a very different scenario, but so much better than complete isolation.
What is the biggest obstacle to training during the pandemic? The fence and the locked gate are a challenge if you follow the park is closed rules, although, there are several people who are hopping fences and cutting holes in the fence to access the tracks. I’m not sure what big event they think they are training for. The whole world of sport is cancelled. Did they not see the news?
What do you miss the most about the pre-pandemic world of track and field? I have to say it is the kids. I am a retired teacher and I always believed my coaching would keep me connected to these motivated, hard-working kids. And, of course, our coaching team is a close second. Our team has lots of laughs.
What do you miss the least about the pre-pandemic world of track and field? Time wasted on politics. Period.
What is the biggest thing wrong with track and field? Lack of respect. Fans get very excited about the fastest 100-metre man, but there is so much more. Ontario does not have enough proper indoor training facilities. It amazes me that we can still produce so many elite athletes when our winter training and competition facilities really suck. Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor are the only locations for indoor meets. Driving to Toronto to train in the winter is just this side of completely insane. So, if I won $1 million and much more, I would build a facility and we would have Dijon ketchup at the concession.
Is there an easy way to fix the problem? Win the biggest lottery ever! Oh, that means I would have to buy a ticket.
Is there a hard way to fix the problem? Convince a huge benefactor they would love to have their name on a spectacular facility that does not house basketball or hockey.
What would be one suggestion to make track and field better? Unlimited financial support.
Has the pandemic changed how you will approach coaching track and field in the future? In the near future, like starting next week, there are huge changes. We pride ourselves on our team atmosphere, and having the athletes in little groups of four for training will be challenging. Our pre- and post-workout banter will be missing. I don’t think I will ever take coaching for granted.
What is the first thing you are going to do when life returns to normal? Hop a plane to Australia and hug my granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law, with a stop in Los Angeles to hug my other daughter.
What daily activity do you miss the most? Reading BPSN stories! Local action at its best.
What guilty pleasure do you miss the most? Shopping for fabric at Joanne’s in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
What is your favourite outfit to wear around the house if you are working from home? Sweat pants are transitioning to capri tights.
What do you do to replace the time spent involved in track and field? Gardening and more cooking.
Are you most likely to be a hunk, chunk, drunk or sasquatch when the pandemic ends? I think I will keep my Yoda image. “Patience you must have my young Padawan.” Never have we needed patience like we do now.
What is the worst habit you have picked up during the pandemic? Daytime television.
What is the best habit you have picked up during the pandemic? Walking early in the morning kick starts the day into productivity.
What is something good about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? New skills in technology.
What is something bad about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? Lack of skills in technology.
In the weeks ahead, BPSN is hoping to get people in Niagara’s sporting community to share their COVID Closeups. If you want to volunteer, shoot Bill or I a text. You have our numbers.
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.