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Sport-études during the Covid era: Sport as a healthy escape

Sport-études during the Covid era: Sport as a healthy escape

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October 25, 2021

 |  Centre Multisports

We have all experienced the crisis of the pandemic as we could: with our fears, our impatience and our moments of hope. We know that this crisis will leave indelible marks in our lives and it is probably still too early to fully realize what is happening to us. It takes a good distance to measure the consequences of such a tumultuous episode. Let’s still take the time to stop and feel the pulse of the coaches and students who have lived their sport-études like never others have lived it before. We carried out these meetings towards the end of the 2021 school year, the students who were met have therefore completed one more year of high school and two of them have since made the jump to CEGEP.

Head above water

Last June, the group of coaches mandated to lead the students registered in one of the four sports-studies offered at the Centre Multisports, refined their last training sessions in order to put an end to a very special school year. At the twilight of a spring that no one will forget, everyone breathed a sigh of relief saying: mission accomplished! Claude David in athletics, Étienne Bergeron in tennis, Michael Gagné in cycling sports, Jade Pinsonneault in gymnastics and Vanessa Ringuette in cheerleading and acrobatic sports experienced the crisis in their own way, with coach’s eyes and also with their human eyes. sensitive to the mental health of students: I was pleasantly surprised, it was a good year despite the inconveniences we experienced, says Claude David. I think we still realized, apart from the competitions, that we were lucky. It was the same approach. I prepared all the time, whether at the start of the season, to bring the athlete to his full potential in July. In tennis, Étienne Bergeron, coach for a quarter of a century, admits having had a particularly trying year: “There were days when it was not easy here, there were days when we were less productive in terms of tennis, but we took the time to sit down, we took the time to do something other than tennis, observes the man who founded his school, EB Tennis, in 1992. Tennis is a business, but life everyday, that’s another thing. We had bad times. Young people are human and have been made to feel the wringer, whether at school or in everyday life. Already, after a few interviews, we can feel the resilience and adaptation that the coaches have integrated into their lives in order to keep their heads above water. Theirs and that of their students.

Young people blessed to be able to train

Going to take a look in the gym that day, it was easy to see the absence of regular members of the Centre Multisports. In the spring, it should be remembered, the center was closed to all except students enrolled in a sport-studies. A special situation for young people who have taken advantage of a certain privilege: “It was good overall, says Michael Gagné. We were able to adapt, we were able to adjust accordingly, depending on the measurements. The young people were extremely blessed to be able to continue their sport. There were pros and cons. We can easily guess that all sport-études programs in Quebec and elsewhere in the country have suffered the repercussions of the pandemic. But some sports may have felt it more directly than others. This is at least what one might think of the practice of cheerleading where contact between students is the very basis of the exercises offered: “We had to reinvent ourselves a little bit, confirms Vanessa Ringuette. With sport-études, it was still easy because we were already working individually. But when it comes to stunts (small groups of students who perform acrobatics), we had to be original. Our athletes, instead of lifting humans, lift mats in the gymnasium to continue working on their skill.” All the coaches without exception had a word for the team, for the family, for the unity they were able to create to weld the links in these times when every gesture counts: “I would be lying to say that it has been a year ultra easy, we had more difficult times, but talking to each other as a team, trying to motivate each other, we are a great team. Some of our coaches were able to continue working, we were able to discuss with them and that made a difference,” says Jade Pinsonneault.

Saved by sport

The students in all of this, the first beneficiaries of sport-études programs, seem to have come through this crisis with their heads held high by realizing the importance of physical exercise in life in general and in a crisis situation like the one we experienced in particular: “If I didn’t have my sport, I don’t think I would have been able to get through the difficult year we had, admits Emma Dumoulin, tennis racket in hand and high school student 5 at Blue Oak. I had up and down states, really a lot, but when I came to my sport I was always stable, I wanted to be there, I had fun. Honestly, that’s what got me through the crisis this year. As for young athlete Mathias Robichaud, a Secondary 3 student enrolled in the athletics program, the story is the same: “Without sport, it would have been much more complicated. With sport, I was more relaxed, I arrived home, I was calmer, I was healthier, I felt good. His colleague Étienne Poupart, a secondary 4 student, is a philosopher and speaks of a different context for each young person: “It really affected young people on another level, he believes. We can try to imagine it, but the fact remains that each young person lives differently what they feel. »

Far from the bars, close to the goal

Crossing the room where young people jump from the beams by performing acrobatics that their parents no longer dare to do, Emmie Charron takes advantage of the present moment. Now in her second year of CÉGEP, she usually trains with her sports-studies colleagues, but a long break has forced her to stay away from the bars and mats that she has been frequenting since secondary 1: “It’s really disheartening, she admits. The gym is not a sport that you can stop and start again as if nothing had happened. Each time you stop, you have to come back and do all the basic movements and after that you can rework what we call evolution, the movements you want to do to level up. There are also other athletes who can’t train, it’s not just me, and we know that we could really go further. We were slowed down a lot. On the other side of the wall, in the room where the fit gym is located, Félix Paré is finishing his very last day of training after having spent five years in the Sports cycling program. Between two bodybuilding sessions, he explains how he foresees his season without the usual competitions. Students are often fueled by these meetings, because they allow them to measure their progress: “I tell myself that the more the competitions are postponed, the more time I have to prepare, which helps me to give myself a little energy boost, he notes. It has not always been easy to find the energy and the motivation, but when I look at my goal to achieve, it gives me energy and I am able to continue like this even if it is difficult”.

Life lessons

We often hear people say that it is in adversity that we become stronger. Is this really what young people want to hear in these times when benchmarks are wavering, when even some parents are struggling to keep their heads above water? Listening to the coaches, the life lessons learned by young athletes enrolled in a sport-études program at the Centre Multisports during the pandemic should follow them all their lives: “They will appreciate what they have been able to experience while most people were frustrated, says Claude David. They were able to live their sport, five times a week, without constraints. “Étienne Bergeron, he wonders what could affect them after this crisis: “They have experienced a lot of business for their young age, which is unheard of in our generations. They will be stronger,” he hopes. As for gymnastics and cheerleading coaches, Jade and Vanessa talk about luck and perseverance: “I think they will remember the chance they had to train, because we have sisters and brothers who are not training right now,” says Jade Pinsonneault. “Athletes will retain the perseverance of not giving up, no matter what happens, of being flexible”, believes for her part Vanessa Ringuette. Kinesiologist Michael Gagné argues that the parents had their role to play and that without them, the situation would not have been the same: “Despite the pitfalls, the parents expressed great collaboration, a great opening, he says. Instead of pointing fingers, we found solutions. I thank the parents for being part of that year of a pandemic which was not necessarily the easiest.

Nothing more acquired

Finally, by asking young athletes what is good to remember in this crisis from which we are not yet extricated, we see that resilience, acceptance and even foresight have managed to make their nest somewhere in their head. Wisdom is not the prerogative of the oldest: “In sport-études, we are the only people who have managed to train completely, appreciates Emma. I was able to evolve physically and mentally unlike some people who were not allowed to come and train in a gym or play tennis. For Étienne Poupart, you have to look further than what you see at the moment: “Even if there are times when you say to yourself that there are no more competitions, you still continue to push and you say to yourself, at some point, it’s going to pay off and we’re going to get out of it that way. »

Sport as a healthy escape is perhaps Félix Paré who can explain it best, sitting on the exercise bench on which he had just lifted some heavy weights: “When we train in general, all our thoughts go away, we’re just focused on training, which really helps us get through an epidemic or things like that. Finally, Emmie, firmly anchored on her mat, certainly retains the resilience, but also reminds that a part of the population may have been forgotten in this pandemic: “I will no longer take anything for granted, she says . Just coming to train is a privilege. I realized that I was more resilient than I thought and more persevering too. But we forgot a lot about the young people of CÉGEPS and universities I find during the covid, it would be good to remember that in the future. »

Well noted Emmie. In the next pandemic, let’s not forget anyone. Starting with each of us.

Patrick Richard

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