A global pandemic doesn’t mean Western students are unable to get the sports experience they hoped for before the world flipped upside down. There’s still plenty of options to get involved in athletics on campus, even before varsity sports restart in January.

Regardless of whether you want to step into the gym or onto a playing field in the fall, here are three options for those who want to join the athletic community on campus. 

Hit the Gym

Despite all the restrictions on public gatherings in Ontario, the Western Student Recreation Centre opened to students on Sunday. Like everything else in these weird and wacky times, the gym experience will be very different. 

You'll have to register and sign up for an appointment online in order to get access to the Rec Centre this year. Each workout slot will be 60 minutes in length, then the gym has to clear out and get thoroughly cleaned before the next group can enter. There will be penalties for not showing up to your scheduled workout times, including temporary suspension of membership.

In the weight room, students will not have free reign to use whatever equipment they want. The gym has been divided into "workout pods," and each pod features a specific set of equipment. Before going to the gym you have to reserve one of these pods, and stay in that pod during your time in the weight room

Initially there will be no access to change rooms or locker rooms, so everyone will have to bring their bags and equipment with them to their reserved workout pods.

The gym's capacity will be reduced in accordance with provincial guidelines. Gone are the days of over 100 people in the weight room, every student will have enough personal space to workout while physical distancing.

Pro-tip: Whenever the gym opens up to regular capacity, follow the Western Weight Room on Twitter. The account updates how many people are in the weight room every half hour, so you know when the time is right to go.

Intramurals

Not even a global pandemic can stop the quest for the coveted “Purple Shirt.” 

Intramurals are about more than scratching that sports itch. They're a great way to meet new people both in your residence and outside of it. Intramural leagues offer a wider variety of  sports and are available to all students at various levels of competition.

Most leagues also have teams for “free-agents,” or players who register without a team.

Western plans to march on with most of their sport offerings in the pandemic. Most intramural sports, both indoor and outdoor, will start after Oct. 13. Some sports, such as basketball and volleyball, will be modified to include fewer players on each team. E-Sports intramurals will kick off slightly earlier on Sept. 28.

Western takes their intramurals seriously with clear rules for gameplay and eligibility, but they're still a great way to go out and kick around with some friends. 

Pro-tip: Post-game snacks at Ontario Hall might not be an option with restrictions on visitors, but the Subway across the street from the Rec Centre is  a great spot to grab some food and chill with your teammates.

Clubs and committees

Western is known for their extracurricular activities and the plethora of ways to get involved on campus. Sports are no exception. With club lists changing year-to-year, the options available to students change as well.

Last year the university had the Western Sport Business Club and the Western Sports Analytics Club. There are also clubs dedicated to specific sports like hockey and soccer, as well as fitness-focused clubs. If you're looking for something more charitable, Western has a Right to Play club that focuses on using sports to help children rise above challenges in other facets of their life. Keep an eye out for the Ivey Sports Leadership Conference in the winter, it always draws in big names as industry speakers.

Although Clubs Week may be held virtually this year, make sure to look at all your club and committee options. There’s a little something for everyone, you just have to go find it.

Pro-tip: Explore all your options, leave no stone unturned. Most clubs will reserve spots on their executive committees for first-years, joining one is a great leadership experience, a resume boost and a way to meet new people.

There’s a way for every Western student to join the sports community this year, from the workout benches in the Rec Centre to your desk in your house. It might take a little more searching, but somewhere in there is the perfect extracurricular for you.


This article is part of our annual Frosh Issue, read the full issue online.

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Jordan Bloom is a Sports Editor for Volume 114 of The Gazette. Email him at Jordan.bloom@westerngazette.ca or find him on twitter @JBloomSports

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