School year with no sports? Not for these teens

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-09-15 06:00

Students say activities this year are different, but worth it

For 17-year-old Alleigh-Jane Williamson, last week was a big week.

Not only did she start her final year of high school, but she also resumed her competitive dance classes for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic put them on pause in March.

But things aren’t quite the same at her Thunder Bay, Ont. (Ontario) dance studio as they were before.

Alleigh-Jane said dancers now have to stay in their own squares, marked by tape on the studio’s floor, to ensure they remain physically distanced from one another.

There are no change rooms and every other chair in the waiting room is blocked off.

“It’s pretty different. It’s weird,” she told CBC Kids News.

Alleigh-Jane Williamson, 17, on stage during a competitive dance competition.

Alleigh-Jane Williamson, 17, is a competitive dancer who studies jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and ballet. (Image submitted by Alleigh-Jane Williamson)

Despite those changes, Alleigh-Jane said her classes, which take up about 10 hours of her time outside of school per week, are well worth it.

“I’m the kind of person who always needs to be doing something … I’ve stuck with that my whole life.”

A sign outside a school's soccer field informing people that the area is closed due to COVID-19.

Many schools across Canada have cancelled extracurricular activities this fall that can’t take place online. (Image credit: Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Do something you love

Like Alleigh-Jane, many students and instructors are finding ways to continue their extracurricular activities this fall — even if it means they aren’t quite the same as usual.

Alleigh-Jane’s advice to others is to stay involved in an activity you enjoy, but only if you can do it safely.

“Everyone has been inside since March,” she said.

“I think it’s important, especially for young kids, to get out and do some physical activity and something they love.”

Young ballet dancers dancing in a studio. They are all within their own space, marked by yellow tape on the floor.

Young dancers in their first day of classes for the 2020-21 dance season at Dance Dynamics Studio in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Ontario). (Image credit: Dance Dynamics Studio/Facebook)

Try sports that can be played by yourself

That advice is something brothers Clark and Ewan Webster are already following.

The pair from Winnipeg have found a sport they can do outside of school that gets out some of their pent-up energy: boxing.

Clark Webster, 12, punching a punching bag during his boxing class.

Clark Webster, 12, in a boxing class on Sept. 9. (Image submitted by Kerri Webster)

The brothers say they like the sport because it allows them to physically distance from others without the feeling that it’s much different than before the pandemic.

Clark said participants of their class on Sept. 9 remained in their own space while practising on their punching bags, speed bags and weights.

Everyone was responsible for wiping down any equipment they touched.

“It is very awesome to get some exercise,” said Clark, 12.

Ewan, 14, agrees.

“You have to keep your space between other kids, but other than that … it was pretty normal,” he told CBC Kids News.

Clark and Ewan Webster posing with their boxing gloves outside of their boxing club.

Clark, left, and Ewan Webster outside their boxing club, where they will be taking classes every week this fall. (Image submitted by Kerri Webster)

And after months of limited activities, Ewan said it’s nice to be involved in a sport that gets him moving.

“It’s just very fun to do stuff like learning a new sport,” he said. “And sweating a lot.”

Train on your own for team sports

Abdul Berete, 18, has had to get a bit more creative.

He’s entering his final year at Immaculata High School in Ottawa, where the football season is on hold because of COVID-19.

But despite the fact that he’s missing his last chance at a high school football season, Abdul’s not letting his disappointment stop him.

Abdul Berete in his workout gear, training on his school's soccer field.

Abdul Berete has been playing football since Grade 6 and hopes to one day play the sport professionally. (Image credit: Jean Delisle/CBC)

He’s been running drills by himself at his high school all summer and shooting videos to send to university and college scouts with the hope of eventually being able to play professionally.

“I have a big dream: I want to make it to the NFL [or the] CFL,” he told CBC News.

“I put in the work every day hoping I could get somewhere.”

It’s that same love of football, Berete said, that helps him stay motivated — both in school and out.

“It keeps me out of trouble,” he said with a smile.

Abdul Berete in mid-sprint down the soccer field.

Since his school’s football season was cancelled, Abdul Berete has been practising drills on his own. (Image credit: Jean Delisle/CBC)

His advice for others? Don’t give up.

“Just keep putting in the work, always focus on yourself,” Berete said.

“The season might be cancelled … [but] you still can do it.”


With files from CBC Ottawa

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