Varsity students at U of G will be training this fall, but under strict rules

Even though there won't be any university or college sports this fall, some students at the University of Guelph will be training for a hopeful winter season.

Outdoor practices, limited number of people and some teams training with no contact

Student athletes at U of G will be training in the fall for a possible winter season, but under strict rules. (John Robertson/CBC)

Sport stadiums at local universities and colleges will be a lot quieter than usual this fall, but that doesn't mean varsity students at the University of Guelph won't be training in hopes of an upcoming season.

In an average year, the university has 750 student athletes. It seems many of them will be back this fall, according to Scott McRoberts, director of athletics.

"Students still have a few weeks to declare whether or not they are coming back in the fall," he said.

"We do have varsity athletes coming back in the fall but they'll be under very strict training protocols."

In June, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association and Ontario University Athletics has said there will be no varsity sports this fall term.

Strict rules

McRoberts said each sport has their own plan that follows national and provincial guidelines, as well as local public health guidelines.

That means doing training outdoors, limited strength and condition sessions, restrictions on the number of people and some practices without contact.

The phased return also means student athletes will only be training in case there is a winter season.

"A lot of sports overlap the fall and winter, such as basketball, volleyball and hockey," he said. "It's still on the table that there may be a reduced schedule for the winter."

But they'll have to wait until October for the news from Ontario University Athletics.

Meantime, McRoberts said student athletes and their coaches are looking forward to "getting some form of normalcy" back.

"There's excitement about this, but there's also caution on how [coaches] go about doing it and a lot of them have had to adjust how they do practice," he said.

The university is also getting ready to open its fitness and recreation facilities at the end of the month, again under strict rules.

McRoberts said the school's soccer field and ice rink have been open for permits only since July.

The reopening of the fitness centre will mean students will have to book a time in advance and require people to wear masks. The fitness centre will also only allow 50 people to be in the building at a time.

Several other facilities such as rock climbing locker rooms will remain closed until provincial regulations change, the University of Guelph said in a statement.