Island hockey players are facing a whole new meaning of what it feels like to be put on ice. The same with those in baseball and soccer. Olympic hopefuls have an extra year to ready for Tokyo. But they can’t do it right now in local gyms, pools, arenas or on fields and pitches.
Athletes up and down the Island are looking for ways to stay fit for when sport starts up again. Jeff Compton, strength and conditioning coach of the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League, is dealing with many of them.
“I tell them it’s the three P’s,” said Compton, who has worked with several NHL teams including the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
“Have a perspective, purpose and plan.”
Each is important.
“In terms of perspective, athletes may think this is a crappy thing to have happen to them,” added Compton, who co-authored the HP1 and HP2 course curriculum for Hockey Canada.
“A negative mindset is a real problem. If you are depressed by the loss or postponement of your season, you need a dose of perspective. Use this as an opportunity to do things in a way you may not have otherwise had a chance to do.”
That gives you a purpose, said Compton. There will be sport again.
“Then you need a plan: ‘What do I need to do?’ ”
Compton has been offering just such roadmaps for athletes stuck with garage fulls of cob-webbed weights, cracked driveways for shooting at frayed old nets and neighbourhood roads for running.
“Every day set goals for yourself and set minimum standards for physical activity. If it used to be two hours of training, double that to four hours,” said Compton, who has a masters degree from UVic, and was fitness co-ordinator for B.C. Hockey’s high performance men’s programs for 15 years.
Options are limited during the pandemic but use what is available. And use your imagination: “Cut the lawn. If you don’t have weights, use paint cans or cinder blocks laying around the house. Find a strong tree branch for chin ups. Walls are everywhere for resistance training. Your legs can still do basic things like running and squatting.”
Compton was invited by former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis — whose daughter Kate is captain — to work with the Victoria-based Canadian women’s field hockey team during the Olympic qualification process for Tokyo.
“I’ve dug out my old field hockey stick to knock the ball around,” he said, of the need to be physically versatile during the pandemic.
Compton’s advice is being taken close to home. He is head coach of the Shawnigan Lake School Hockey Academy U-17 team. Two of the players from the Shawnigan Lake School U-15 team were selected in the recent WHL bantam draft — centre Ben Wright of Mill Bay by the Edmonton Oil Kings and Compton’s son and defenceman Dylan Compton of Victoria by the Prince George Cougars — as part of the 13 Island players taken overall.
Which leads to the elder Compton’s observation of another opportunity which has popped up in this unusual time. Young athletes on an elite path rarely have time under their regular playing and training conditions for family physical activities. But nothing is regular or normal currently.
“This is an opportunity to throw or hit a ball with your parents and siblings,” he said.
“Connection is magic.”
It’s just that those magical connections are different now for athletes.