Keeping the faith
Nicole Beach had high hopes for the 2020 high school track season.
The 17-year-old, Grade 12 student at Blessed Trinity transitioned into a distance runner last year and set her sights on doing well at SOSSA and advancing to OFSAA.
But those dreams won’t come to pass thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic which has shut down spring sports, including the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association and Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations track meets.
“I think this year having a full season of distance training under my belt would have been really helpful to help me succeed,” said Beach, who will be attending Wilfird Laurier in the fall. “I was really excited to see what I could have done this year with my training but obviously there is nothing we can do about it so I’m looking forward to the next thing.”
Beach, who is an accomplished cross-country runner, is doing her best to keep in shape. She is a member of the Niagara Olympic Club where her father, Derrick Beach, is the long distance coach.
“I think, being a runner, I am lucky we don’t really need any equipment for our sport,” she said. “Even though the school season is cancelled I can go outside and still run and train.”
Derrick Beach, meanwhile, is doing his best to come up with way for his runners to keep in shape.
“I’m giving them workouts daily to do,” he said. “The challenge is we want to keep them off pavement and concrete of course and also keep appropriate social distancing.
“They are doing workouts on their own and they’re trying to find spots where they can run, usually gravel or grass is the best place for them to do their workouts.”
Derrick Beach said he is focusing the training mainly on endurance.
“We’ll pick the speed up once things get going. It gives them that base so once things get going, we’ll jump right back into it. If there is any track they’ll need more of the speed but they can pick that up quickly.”
While the high school season has been wiped out, Derrick Beach is crossing his fingers summer competitions may still proceed.
“I’m still holding out hope something may come about. It hasn’t been completely taken off the table for July and August,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.
“Certainly, we’re hoping we have the cross-country season in September. Our athletes are excited about the cross-country season if we can’t get any of the track season in.”
Niagara Olympic Club chair Sharon Stewart, who also serves as a sprints and hurdles coach, said staff are doing what they can to keep their 50 athletes engaged through WhatsApp Messenger.
“We already had our training group set up on What’s App. We had that communication tool in place and it’s been really useful,” she said. “They can post some fun things on there too. Pics and things to keep everybody happy and engaged.”
Stewart realizes it can be tough for young athletes to keep themselves motivated without the support of their teammates.
“We have to remind them even the Olympians are in the same boat,” she said. “It’s OK to be sad and frustrated but you have to re-set your goal and make every day important. One of the big things for us has been to really encourage the kids to stay on some kind of schedule. Not specifically our training schedule, but make sure you’re up and moving your body.
“It’s easy to become a slug. You can’t go anywhere and you can’t do anything. Even if they go out for their run or workout it’s such a small part of their day. Their bodies move a lot during the day at school.”
Stewart is also sending out a weekly e-mail.
“We’re trying to keep track of them and keep them engaged. When they don’t know what the end game is, that’s one of the challenges,” she said.
BPSN’s coverage of the track and field season is made possible with the support of the Niagara Olympic Club (https://nocrunners.com).
On the right side of our web site, as well as on the top of the stories, you will notice a yellow SUPPORT US button.
We are asking anyone who finds value in our work and is able to financially help us to click on the button and contribute whatever amount you feel is appropriate and can afford. There is no set amount. Any amount is appreciated.
The funds collected will be used to enhance and offset the expenses of running the web site.