Post-secondary athletes wait to return to regular season play

The 2020-2021 school year will definitely be different for Virden’s Megan Nahachewsky and area student-athletes attending post-secondary institutions. A volleyball player, Nahachewsky is back in Thunder Bay for her second year at Lakehead University. However, she is not attending classes on campus as her courses are only being offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Thunderwolves have been doing beach volleyball sessions and held their first gym practice on Sept. 11. “There are a lot of different COVID precautions we have to take in order to practice like wearing a mask up until we start practice and having extra time before and after to make sure everything is sanitized,” Nahachewsky said. “We are trying to practice five times a week, as well as strength training four to five days a week.”

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U Sports, the national governing body for Canadian university athletics, cancelled fall national championships. Volleyball teams and other sports with winter seasons are hopeful they will be able to start their campaigns in 2021.

South of the border, Virden’s Tyler Kirkup and the Bemidji (Minn.) State University men’s hockey team were slated to start their NCAA Division I season on Oct. 3. On Sept. 10, the Hockey Commissioners Association announced the start of the season will be delayed until a yet-to-be-determined date.

Also, in the United States, Virden’s Amy Lewis is on campus for her first season studying and playing volleyball at Dakota College at Bottineau (N.D.). The Ladyjacks’ usual fall season has been postponed, but the junior college team is practicing. On Saturday, the team won the first two of its 10 possible fall scrimmage/exhibition matches. The regular season is set to start in January.

The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference has pushed back the start of its hockey seasons to 2021. Due to this, Elkhorn’s Karli Frederick opted not to return to Olds, Alta., where she plays for Olds College. She is staying at home to do her field study for her Bachelor of Applied Science in Agriculture.

Miniota’s Brad Cole is in Caronport, Sask. for his second season as the head coach of the Briercrest College’s men’s hockey team. Briercrest students are taking a mix of online and in-person classes. The team started practicing last week. “Each sport had to come up with protocols that were passed by our executive leadership committee and the school itself had to work to put together a plan that was approved by the government of Saskatchewan,” Cole said. “Every student was either tested before they arrived on campus or tested once they arrived.”

Junior Football

The Manitoba Major Junior Football League’s Westman Wolverines, where area products such as Kola’s Dustin Siemens and Lenore’s Wyatt Wilson played recently, had their season cancelled.

The Canadian Junior Football League also cancelled its campaign. That included the season of the Edmonton Huskies, who Virden’s Brandon Martens plays for. He is in Edmonton working on skills with teammates in a cohort system, living with friends, and taking online classes in engineering at the University of Alberta.

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