When 22-year-old Tyler Hodgson got an offer to play football for the University of British Columbia last spring, it was a dream come true for the wide receiver who had been playing in the Canadian Junior Football League for the Winnipeg Rifles.
But the emergence of COVID-19 ruined his plans to have a breakout season with the team. The entire 2020-21 season was cancelled by Canada West, the governing body for post-secondary athletics in western Canada because of the public health order.
“Not playing was kind of unfortunate, because you want to play all the time,” said Hodgson.
Now, he is wondering what his chances are to play in the next season.
Canada West plans for the season
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to discussions on whether the upcoming 2021-22 football schedule, which involves eight regular-season games before playoffs, can be carried out with future health guidelines.
“The scheduling committee from Canada West is looking at the potential of some alternative schedules, which would have fewer games and less travel to make it more feasible from a health perspective and an economic perspective,” said Gord Hopper, the UBC director of athlete performance, who meets with Canada West and represents the UBC as one of the member schools.
Fewer games would give flexibility for rescheduling in case a team suffers from a COVID-19 outbreak.
The final decision from Canada West will come down to a vote anticipated to take place in May.
For football specifically, six-member schools will have to vote on whether to continue with the current eight-game schedule or an alternative one.
Voting will be done separately for each sport.
“Our plan and assumption at this point is that we will be able to go ahead with a season starting September 2021, health permitting,” said Hopper.
“We are highly motivated to try to make a season happen.”
Varsity athletes remain positive amidst pandemic
The COVID-cancelled year has been difficult on all student athletes because they’re used to being active and have limited eligibility years to play but most are working hard to adapt.
“We are seeing people who are so resilient and managing the reactions to this constant change and uncertainty,” said Whitney Sedgwick, the staff psychologist and lead mental-performance consultant for UBC athletics.
“One thing that we need to all try to remember is that this will change, and it will pass, and it has been changing,” said Sedgwick.
Hodgson has been able to identify some positives despite the cancelled 2020 season.
“Last year ended up being a little bit of a good thing, because it allowed me to focus more on getting better at the finer details of playing football, like working on running routes and stuff like that,” he said.
“But obviously I would’ve preferred to play.”
Hodgson is hopeful knowing his team will potentially be going ahead with a fall season.