UPEI student hopes to end hockey career on high note with return of university sports this fall
'It’s so nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel'
Last year, Camille Scherger had her best-ever season playing hockey at the University of Prince Edward Island, but things took a turn a day before the national championships.
The fifth-year student from Lloydsmith, Alta., was an Atlantic University Sports (AUS) all-star and most valuable player candidate in the 2019-20 women's hockey season. The UPEI women's team finished the regular season with their best record in the past decade, and the team's confidence was high heading into the national championships.
Then COVID-19 outbreaks began, and U-Sports cancelled the 2020 hockey championships and other university sports.
"When I first found out, I was just like, 'This can't be real.' My family had travelled, all our families were there," Scherger said.
"It was definitely just shock and not understanding what was going on."
'Last kick of the can'
Since March 2020, university sports have been cancelled but the AUS will resume this autumn.
Scherger said she's glad to see a return to normalcy and excited to return to the ice.
"It's so nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We're going to have a great team next year," she said. "Me and two other fifth years will be returning, so we're really excited and looking forward to the last kick of the can."
The break from playing hockey gave her time to pursue other interests and spend more time with family, Scherger said.
"I think I've grown a lot this year. I've been expanding my hobbies outside of hockey," Scherger said.
We are thrilled we'll be finally moving forward with the intention of going back to sports in the fall.— Jane Vessey, UPEI
"Hockey is always at the centre of what I'm doing, but it was nice to be able to connect with my family a bit more because I was home so much."
Scherger said she's grateful for the support she and her teammates received from the UPEI athletic department throughout their time away from competition.
"It was tough not having a hockey season, the athletics department was so open with resources for us to keep busy. They were great and always there for us."
'We are thrilled'
Jane Vessey, UPEI's director of athletics and recreation, said the university is pleased with the perseverance of their student athletes through these strange times.
A few varsity teams at UPEI played exhibition games this past year, but for the rest, it was mostly practice and scrimmage. Vessey said it wasn't the best for their athletes.
"It was tough for the student athletes because they had a loss of routine, and competition is so important," she said in an interview with Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.
They put in all that time and effort throughout their whole time at UPEI and for them to not finish it off right definitely stings.— Camille Scherger
Athletic departments from the four Atlantic universities formed a return-to-play committee last fall. Since then, the committee has been making plans for a safe return to sports.
"We are thrilled we'll be finally moving forward with the intention of going back to sports in the fall," Vessey said.
'Feel for those girls'
Fans will also return to bleachers with limited capacity, Vessey said.
"We are so excited to get them back in the stands and to reconnect with them. We intend to release season ticket packages as soon as we can."
AUS will resume play with football, soccer, rugby and cross country running starting Sept.10. Other sports will follow at their normal start dates.
Scherger hopes she and her teammates can replicate a season similar to their last.
The team will be motivated to play well for their former teammates who graduated this year and did not have the chance to end their hockey career on their terms, she said.
"I definitely feel for those girls. They put in all that time and effort throughout their whole time at UPEI and for them to not finish it off right definitely stings."
The puck drops on the AUS women's hockey season Oct. 6, with UPEI facing the University of New Brunswick for their season opener on Oct. 8.
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With files from Island Morning