Fort St. John college athletes take uncertainty in stride

With schools officially done for the year, now's the time for students to enjoy their summer, and for collegiate athletes to train and look forward to the coming season. However, the coronavirus continues to loom large, and has the fall athletics season up in the air.

U-Sport, the university athletics conference that includes the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Regina, and others has officially cancelled their fall season. The Alberta College Athletics Conference (ACAC), which hosts the majority of Peace region college athletes, officially postponed its fall season on June 19, with hopes of restarting them in January during the winter sport season.

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Former NPSS athletics stars

Jaime McPherson was coming off a second great season of soccer with the SAIT Trojans, and was looking forward to playing in the fall with her sister, Jordynn, when she heard the news.

"It's disappointing that we won't be playing in the fall, it's been almost a full since since I've played soccer, but I'm glad it hasn't been cancelled altogether," Jaime said. "We still have something to look forward to and will start practicing and working together as a team in August."

Jaime is heading into her third and final season at SAIT, and the former Female Freshman of the Year is hoping she can play her final college soccer season.

Jordynn, a 2020 NPSS grad, is was the school's Female Athlete of the Year, and the two sisters were looking forward to sharing this experience together. They still plan to make the most of it. They'll be moving to Calgary in September, renting a place together, and will still be attending classes and practicums in person. They are both enrolled in SAIT's X-ray Technician Program.

"I'm excited to live with my sister, she'll definitely be the boss of the house, and I'm just excited to get playing college soccer and have the college experience," said Jordynn.

The team will still be practicing in the fall as it normally would, and the sisters said they've been doing Zoom practices and workout sessions with the team and coaches every Tuesday and Thursday.

The plan is for the soccer season to start in January 2021. Whenever the SAIT Trojans do finally take to the soccer field for a competitive match, the McPherson sisters will be ready to go.

"We normally wouldn't be playing soccer at all right now, or doing anything with the team. So, in a way, our team is probably closer right now," Jaime said.

Huskies impacted as well

Coming after a year that saw him robbed of the chance to win a third-straight NWJHL championship with the Fort St. John Huskies, former captain Jeridyn Loewen passed on returning to the team for his fourth and final year of junior hockey. He's moved on to play for Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Saskatchewan. 

Briercrest also plays in the ACAC and Loewen faces uncertainty regarding the 2020-21 hockey season. Fortunately, hockey is one of the few college sports that spans both semesters, so the team is hopeful it can still have a normal season starting in January, though a busier and condensed one. 

Loewen isn't letting things get to him and is excited about the upcoming year. 

"It's all out of my control. I may as well embrace it, learn from it, and I'm using it as a good time to grow and do what I can to get better," said Loewen. 

Like the McPhersons, the Briercrest team has been meeting over video-chat sessions, and Loewen plans to move to Saskatchewan at the end of August. The team plans to practice and train during the fall as it normally would, though it remains to be seen if that will be as a full team, or in six-person mini-sessions. 

Loewen is set on going to the gym each day, and working out and practicing as he normally would. He doesn't let the uncertainties distract him from the things he can still do right now. 

"It will be different not playing games at first, but for now I'm just focused on what I need to do, and we'll be excited about playing games when the time comes," Loewen said. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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