The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on McGill varsity athletes, with nearly all competition and training brought to a complete stand-still the past year. Jade Downie-Landry, BA ‘20, U1 Education, was prepared for her fifth and final year of eligibility competing on the Martlets Hockey team, but the season was halted on Sept. 14 when the RSEQ announced the cancellation of all university sports. With many public health restrictions in place, Downie-Landry and her teammates found different ways to remain active and prepare for the 2021-2022 season.
“With reason, our facilities have been closed for quite some time, and this has required us to adapt to the situation,” Downie-Landry said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Thankfully, the girls have been great at it, with some [players] outside of Quebec able to access ice and gyms. For those in Quebec, we utilized resources such as the outdoor rinks and the provided three home workouts per week.”
As co-captain of the team, Downie-Landry has found creative ways to foster team bonding under these difficult circumstances. She is thankful the team has remained close despite the long period of isolation.
“Although it has been challenging, I think it has been a great opportunity to be creative and it has served as an opportunity for us to grow as a team in the face of adversity,” Downie-Landry said. “I think the girls deserve a lot of credit considering the challenges that presented themselves.”
Downie-Landry appreciates having the support of fellow co-captains to help lead their tight-knit squad.
“The beauty of having a group of captains on the team is that we all share similar beliefs about our roles as leaders,” Downie-Landry said. “What is most important for the leadership group is to make those around us better leaders as well. It is great having a group of four to five girls leading a team, but having 25 girls better themselves everyday as people, athletes, students, and leaders is even more essential when looking at our team as a whole.”
Juggling the responsibilities of team leadership, the rigorous varsity hockey training schedule, and McGill’s high academic requirements would prove challenging for anyone. Over the past five years, however, Downie-Landry said that she has grown as both a player and a student with encouragement from her teammates.
“Learning how to manage my time meant learning some things about myself that I did not necessarily know before,” Downie-Landry said. “Throughout the years I have definitely noticed that I am very routine-oriented [….] Being surrounded [by] teammates who had struggled and experienced a heavy schedule was also nice because I got to experience what worked and did not work for me.”
Off the ice, Downie-Landry has been working diligently to complete her second degree at McGill after graduating with a degree in psychology in 2020. She is now completing a B.Ed in physical education. After she graduates, Downie-Landry hopes to stay involved with hockey.
“My plans are still up in the air,” Downie-Landry said. “One thing I am certain of is that I would love to continue within the hockey community, whether that is being involved with coaching or other opportunities that might present themselves.”
For now, Downie-Landry is looking forward to the possibility of playing hockey games next year.
“I am fortunate enough to be coming back next year, but some players, regardless of university, are concluding their final years as a student-athlete,” Downie-Landry said. “I tip my hat off to them. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this year must have been for them.”