COVID-19 Q&A: Cougars Defenseman Connor Blake
By Zach Worden, Sports Editor
With the unique landscape for Cougars athletes in 2020, the players, teams and coaches have been able to practice and train together with the return of classes.
Despite there being no Canada West seasons scheduled to date, the athletes are trying to stay on the top of their games for whenever they can get back onto the ice, field or court.
The Reflector caught up with Men’s hockey defenseman Connor Blake to see what the Cougars have been up to since returning to campus and how the transition to online classes has been for him.
In the 2019-20 season, Blake finished 11th in the Canada West in total points, scoring seven goals and collecting 18 assists. Blake also led Canada West in points on the power-play with 15. After a successful debut campaign with the Cougars, Blake was named to the Canada West All-Rookie team.
The Reflector: When the decision was made to postpone the season how did you learn of the news? What was your first reaction?
Connor Blake: I first heard the news from coach Gilling in the team group chat. I was obviously very upset and mad knowing that we wouldn’t get to play until the new year, but I understood that the health and safety of everyone is the most important thing.
The Reflector: What has the team been doing since classes started again?
Connor Blake: We are still skating regularly — four times a week —accompanied by a training session once a week.
The Reflector: From an athletic standpoint, how have you dealt with not being able to compete with your team? What has been the hardest adjustment? How have you been staying sharp?
Connor Blake: When the decision was first made to cancel the season, I had to adjust my training. But still being able to practice with the team and be on the ice is great for me because it gives me structure and allows me to stay sharp and not fall behind.
The Reflector: What has the change to online classes been like for you? Are you finding it any harder? Has time management changed for you in any way?
Connor Blake: I personally am not a fan of online classes. I liked going to school and being in-person much better, and I felt like I learned better as well. It can be tricky to stay on task with certain distractions at home, so I’ve had to be much more diligent with my time management, making sure I’m staying on track.
The Reflector: Have the changes to classes and athletic eligibility altered your plans moving forward in any way?
Connor Blake: I don’t think it has altered my plans moving forward. Besides the obvious [difference]? of classes moving to online learning, not much has changed for me.
The Reflector: Have there been any surprise positives from this experience?
Connor Blake: At the start of the pandemic, I got to spend much more time with my family than usual, which I consider to be a great positive. But again, besides not being able to play games, we still have our normal routine back, which I’m grateful for.
The Reflector: How do you anticipate things might be different when teams are finally able to resume competition? How do you think those first moments will feel?
Connor Blake: Well, with a shortened season, I expect the pace of play to be very high. But I’m excited to get back to gameplay as we have a great group, and I expect a lot from us.