More nimble than ever before
The COVID-19 pandemic, with its lockdowns and limitations, couldn’t dampen the spirit, energy and creativity of the Department of Recreation and Athletics in the challenging period from May 2020 to May 2021.
“During those trying months, our staff and coaches were able to find new and innovative ways to deliver programming to our users and to create a sense of community,” says D’Arcy Ryan, director of Recreation and Athletics. “Traditionally, our efforts are aimed at bringing people together for fitness activities and sports events. It was a significant pivot for us, and I’m proud of how everyone rallied and adapted.”
Under the unusual circumstances, Concordia Recreation found unique ways to help keep people active, healthy and engaged.
Le Gym on the Sir George Williams Campus moved fitness offerings online. Instructors adapted their living spaces and welcomed people into their homes via Zoom. Hundreds of Concordians were able to stay active with classes in Zumba, Yoga, Cardio Plus and more.
A series of workout videos and demonstrations was also created and put online, permitting people to train at home at times that best fit their schedules. In addition, a program was set up to rent exercise bikes and rowers to workout enthusiasts who needed equipment to train at home.
A nutrition component was also added to Le Gym’s offerings. Consultations with a registered dietician were made available, and nutrition tips were posted on Recreation’s Instagram account.
The Concordia Stinger coaches and athletes faced incredible challenges over the last year. There were no games or competitions in the 2020-21 season. So how do you stay motivated to work towards common goals when there’s so much uncertainty? How do you prepare for elite competition when you don’t know when you will be able to compete?
The Stingers came up with new ways to do things. Meetings and socializing moved to Zoom, where everything from strategy sessions, team building and guest appearances from alumni and motivational speakers took place.
Training, when permitted, was in small groups, and a lot of strength and conditioning was done individually. Not surprisingly, there were also some competitive initiatives. Running challenges pitting Stingers against each other were popular.
Despite the disruption, the Stinger student-athletes really stepped up and excelled in their academic pursuits. Student athletes’ GPAs reached an all-time high and even merited coverage on CBC News.
Coaches also had to be creative when it came to recruiting. They had to evaluate athletes without seeing them play and convince top talent to join their teams without meeting them in person or bringing them to campus. There was a lot of virtual recruiting and even virtual tours of the athletic complex and Concordia campuses. The unconventional approach proved to be effective as a very strong group of recruits committed to the Stingers.
Finally, the Stingers also remained dedicated to their many volunteer and community projects. They raised money for scholarships, soup kitchens, the Montreal Children’s Hospital and more. Many also participated in a department campaign — #CUsoon — encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“In some ways it feels like the coaches and athletes didn’t miss a beat. They trained, recruited, studied and volunteered,” says Ryan. “They did everything but compete. You have to respect the extraordinary effort that went into the varsity programs and, at the end of the day, it feels like the Stingers are stronger and more committed than ever.”