With no formal season this year, the Saskatchewan SWAT are getting their fill of competitive lacrosse through a series of intrasquad scrimmages.
For some players, it’s not only a chance to get back on the floor after a lengthy hiatus, but also valuable preparation for their college seasons.
“Getting the stick dialed back in, getting my cardio back up. Just all the little things, I think it’s gonna help with the small things going into the fall,” transition player Grayson Kuan said.
Kuan is preparing for his second year with the Quincy (Ill.) University Hawks field lacrosse program. It’s been a long wait after his first year was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(I) was really looking forward to having the first full college season under the belt, but obviously with the pandemic going on in the world you have to adjust and adapt and I’m looking forward to getting back out there and getting back to it,” he said.
That means going back to the United States, where the rate of coronavirus cases is much higher than it is back home in Canada.
But after weighing the risks, Kuan feels comfortable returning to campus.
“(There was) a lot of talk with my family, figuring out what’s best for us with the situation at hand and with (students) having a shortened semester in the fall that’ll really help us in case there is that second wave that comes,” he said.
The lacrosse season itself doesn’t begin until the new year and the fall schedule has been modified in order to minimize players’ risk of coronavirus exposure.
“We won’t be able to have any scrimmages in the fall. Those have all been cancelled as well as in our conference, all fall sports have been postponed till the spring but we’ll still be able to practice and do our weightlifting and training,” Kuan said.
Fellow SWAT player Easton Ong also plans to attend school south of the border at the University of Indianapolis. However the aspiring midfielder is opting to stay home for at least the first semester of his first year, in part due to a pre-existing medical condition.
“I’m a little more at risk with my asthma so I just thought having the least amount of contact with new people would be beneficial,” he said.
Ong will attend classes remotely while continuing to train at home and he’s confident he’ll still be able to earn his spot on the lacrosse team once he arrives on campus.
“I’ve always been able to rise up to the next level when I got there so I’m pretty confident in my ability to perform when I get down there,” he said.
“Having (these practices) just makes it so much easier to be home and know I can train still and be a part of lacrosse.”
The difference in the two SWAT teammates’ approach to the unprecedented scenario highlights the fact that there is no blueprint for such decisions.
But both athletes share a common goal of making the most out of their college experience on and off the field.
“That’s the one thing any of us want is just some type of normalcy back in our lives and I think that’s really been able to come out with the lacrosse season coming back a little bit,” Kuan said.