In a year of COVID-19 restrictions, student-athletes have found new ways to improve their game during the pandemic
C/O Esra Rakab
In a year where McMaster University sports seasons had to be cancelled and training has become increasingly difficult due to social-distancing restrictions, teams and athletes have had to find new ways to keep improving. Not only are these athletes missing out on the most critical method of improvement — the cancelled games in which they regularly play — but practices have also looked extremely different throughout the school year.
Some teams opted to train via virtual practices, gathering on Zoom to work out together and run drills individually. Others have opted to continue hosting regular in-person practices, simply adhering to the provincial restrictions. That being said, the majority of teams have created a variety of in-between scenarios in their best attempts to keep their athletes on the right track to improvement.
Tyler Pavelic, a middle on the McMaster men’s volleyball team, discussed the differences and difficulties of the in-person practices the team has held this year.
“Training in the pandemic has been pretty tough, especially considering we have to wear masks during the whole practice . . . With the guidelines here in Hamilton, we are only allowed 10 guys at a time, so for a sport like volleyball where you need six-on-six to play, we can’t really do much,” said Pavelic.
Practice might be much difficult in the pandemic, but for Pavelic, it’s the missed gameplay that was the biggest punch to the gut.
“[On] gamedays, it’s a great feeling with a lot of fans, loud music . . . It’s just a great experience in every game that everyone looks forward to during the week,” said Pavelic. When asked what he missed most about pre-pandemic sports, the answer was simple: “Just games, games were awesome,” said Pavelic.
Julian Tymochko, a member of Mac's men's baseball team, is another Marauder who spoke about the hardships the pandemic has caused on his team.
“It’s been tough — we haven’t really been able to get any official practices going. The best we could do was have about 10 guys get out, throw a little bit of live batting practice, and get some ground ball work in and all of that. That was during the summer mostly, we really haven’t done much since then,” said Tymochko.
With practices limited, and limitations surrounding indoor practices, Tymochko has found himself improving within the mental/strategy-based aspects of his game from his own home, something many athletes have turned to this past season.
“Something that I’ve been really excited about recently is that college baseball in the states has started up . . . Typically I’ll start my morning watching two or three highlights from the games, like a Vanderbilt-Arkansas game or something like that,” said Tymochko.
Tymochko enjoys watching his American counterparts to analyze how they play the game. He considers each and every move to help improve the way he goes into each game.
“I’m watching those highlights and seeing those pitchers from our age group in North America, how they’re going about their in-game play. Just looking at how they’re playing, considering that they’re the top of the game, they’re the top competition for our age group,” explained Tymochko.
Tymochko, the 2019-2020 Canadian Baseball Guru Cy Young winner, awarded to the league’s best pitcher, has been working extra hard over the offseason, as McMaster Baseball isn’t all he has been training for.
After his Cy Young-winning season, the fifth-year athlete was signed by the Fort McMurray Giants of the Western Canadian Baseball League.
“During the pandemic it was so hard to get a training routine and a good regimen, so I reached out to a trainer via Zoom. For a while I was doing twice a week training sessions with him on Zoom, just getting a good workout,” said Tymochko.
The primary goal Tymochko was going for was finding ways to workout without the typical training equipment offered by McMaster.
“He knew workouts with minimal amounts of equipment that still made me feel a lot stronger, smoother and way more mobile, and I would say that’s what I worked on the most this offseason,” said Tymochko.
The workload Tymochko has undergone similarly resembles what many McMaster athletes have found themselves striving for during the pandemic. With many struggling to find the resources they would’ve had at McMaster, and the limited and potentially cancelled practices, they’ve had to find ways to keep pushing through.
Whether it’s working with a trainer, finding new training methods at home or doing their best to train with their teams despite the restrictions, these student-athletes have found ways to keep getting better, and they’re undoubtedly looking forward to showcasing these new improvements next season.
Photo C/O Motel
By Adrian Salopek, Staff Writer
News of the first COVID-19 related death in Hamilton came just two weeks ago. The outbreak has had devastating effects on communities across Canada, and Hamilton is no exception. Local businesses and members of the Hamilton arts community have suffered economically, as many have had to shut their doors to prevent the spread of the virus. However, in the midst of this stress and uncertainty, community members are coming together through acts of generosity and resourcefulness.
As all non-essential businesses were recently forced to close, most businesses across Hamilton have indefinitely closed their doors. Small businesses like Big B Comics (1045 Upper James St.), a local comic book store, have suffered major losses and so have their entire staff. For many, the COVID-19 outbreak has meant disappearing paychecks or even sudden unemployment.
“Our staffing needs were cut dramatically in the blink of an eye,” said Dylan Routledge, manager of Big B Comics.
However, businesses are not losing hope. Many businesses, Big B Comics included, have implemented new methods of serving their customers while taking all precautions to avoid spreading the virus.
“[We had to] be innovative and inventive in our approach to business,” explained Routledge, “We instituted a ‘door pick up’ system, wherein customers can collect their products at the door but aren't allowed to enter the store.”
Businesses within the food industry have also been stepping up. Motel (359 Barton St. East), a local brunch restaurant, created take-out packages for their customers. These allow customers to still enjoy their food while trying to give them a taste of the experience that they would have had in the restaurant.
“We created brunch packages that mirror the fun you would have in the restaurant,” said Chris Hewlett, owner of Motel. Hewlett and his team are now offering specials that include two entrées and a side dish. To further push the limits, the brunch restaurant is also including decorative tropical decor, including palm leaves, cocktail beach umbrellas, and a light-up neon sign of your choice. The special and regular menu items can all be picked up curbside to help reduce contact between customers and employees.
Businesses and community members alike are not only being resourceful in this dark time, but are also coming together through acts of generosity. It is often said that in the hardest of times, the best in people is revealed, and the actions of many in Hamilton have lived up to this. Vintage Coffee Roasters (977 King St. East), a local family-run coffee shop, has witnessed this in both their own customers and the wider Hamilton community.
“I have been seeing so many posts on social media of [both] our customers and community members reaching out to neighbours and helping out with food purchases or other errands,” explained Lisa Stanton, Vintage Coffee Roasters owner. “Many of our customers were buying beans to be delivered to their friends who may be in quarantine.”
Some businesses have even attempted to give back to the community by making tangible efforts to help those at the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. A notable example of this is Motel with their generous support for healthcare workers.
“We also decided that at this time we wanted to do business mixed with ways to help our community,” said Hewlett, “We offer call ahead free coffee for healthcare workers. We are also using our suppliers to get produce packs to people so they can purchase eggs, bread and fresh produce.”
While local businesses have suffered major financial losses, the arts community has also suffered due to the outbreak and closures. Hamilton Artists Inc. (155 James St. North), an art gallery downtown, had to close its doors to the public and spring exhibitions had to be cancelled. This was a blow to not only the gallery and the Hamilton community, but also to local artists.
“I want to remind people that nonprofits and charities are struggling too, and that even small donations towards these organizations can go a long way,” stressed Julie Dring, Hamilton Artists Inc. Executive Director. "Many of the artist-run centres and arts organizations in Hamilton support artists by paying Canadian Artists’ Representation rates to artists. Donating to your local artist-run centre is a great way to aid artists who are experiencing lost income during this time.”
McMaster’s very own Museum of Art has also suffered in this stressful time, having to close its doors and cancel all events. This has not only affected the museum and its staff, but also McMaster students.
“One of the most significant cancellations at this time is the annual student studio programme (SUMMA) graduation exhibition,” explained Carol Podedworny, the museum’s director. “[It is] cumulative, following four years of study for the students . . . We engage a guest curator for the project from the Canadian arts community — this year, local artist Stylo Starr. It is disappointing that the students will not experience this event.”
Much like their business counterparts, the arts community has had to become resourceful in order to survive the pandemic.
“I think art can be a balm,” said Podedworny. “I think in the COVID world, art museums through a virtual presence (exhibitions, programs, inter-actives, didactics) can provide answers, reflections and opportunities for wellness and self-care.”
It is saddening to see so many businesses, art services and community members negatively impacted by COVID-19. On a positive note, much good has come from this dark time as Hamiltonians make efforts to support one another. Here’s hoping that we don’t forget the lessons learned and the efforts that people have made to help one another.
Photo by Cindy Cui
We have seen many drastic changes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, including the closure of several Ontario universities, the introduction of travel bans and a decline in group gatherings. This has forced many people to quickly adapt — for example, students are learning online, grocery stores have limited the number of toilet paper rolls you can buy and people are being restricted to their homes. Physical distancing, which involves minimizing contact with others, has affected societal norms to the point where we have changed the way that we are communicating. However, despite being physically distant, communities seem to be more tight-knit than ever. This has made me wonder — why can’t things always be this way?
I’ve seen a surge of Instagram stories and posts pop up on social media that are very different from the norm. Usually, I see carefully curated Instagram profiles, posts of places people are vacationing and aesthetic coffee dates. However, because most people are self-quarantining, we are unable to make those posts anymore. Instead, I’ve seen more intimate posts, ranging from self-love selfie challenges to posts appreciating others and even to open posts offering FaceTime chats to anyone who may feel isolated during this time.
During this particularly isolating time, I’ve seen many more people reaching out to their loved ones. In fact, one of my friends has scheduled video calls with her family just so they can update each other on their lives. Despite the fact that we can no longer see each other in-person, I’ve had more friends reach out and talk to me because they want to check up on me or just get to know me better as a person. We’ve become increasingly connected despite the distance, and hopefully this is something we can continue to do when we’re no longer quarantined in our homes.
These individual actions and growing trends may seem insignificant during an ongoing pandemic, but many individuals taking these small actions in their lives can have a large impact on our community. One silver lining of COVID-19 is that this pandemic has truly brought the community together to care for those who need it most. For example, the McMaster Healthcare Students COVID-19 Response Team, an initiative created by McMaster University medical student Mary Boulos, is helping healthcare workers on the front line with errands they are currently unable to manage themselves. Student volunteers are helping healthcare workers with things such as child care, pet-sitting and groceries, among other things. Because of this initiative, healthcare workers such as nurses, doctors and hospital staff can focus on providing care to COVID-19 patients and not have to worry about taking care of their family and potentially infecting them.
Initiatives like these are not something people would usually dream of in a normal setting. When else would someone babysit your child for free because you’re swamped at work? If you need someone to take care of your child, the median cost for child care centres in Ontario is $1152 per month for an infant and $835 per month for a preschooler. Another option would be to hire a babysitter if you need someone for an on-and-off basis. However, because students have gained a lot more time on our hands due to in-person classes and extracurricular events being cancelled, they are able to provide free support for others.
Helping out our community comes in many forms. You can see it through in-person interactions such as the ones I’ve just mentioned, but you can also see it in other forms. For example, the McMaster University Campus Store is now providing free access to course materials until April 30. The Hamilton Street Railway is also asking people to board busses from the rear doors to protect their drivers and providing free transit until at least April 5. The Canadian government is also providing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provides workers with a taxable benefit of $2000 per month for up to four months if their income has been impacted by COVID-19.
All these initiatives are in light of the current struggles that many people are facing due to the pandemic. I’ve seen so many people be more considerate, kind and forgiving because we’re all going through a very difficult time. But it also makes me wonder why we couldn’t have these safety nets and forms of support in the first place. This pandemic was a harsh lesson of how to be compassionate and kind to others when we all have to adapt to harsh circumstances.
So far, we know that we are capable of reaching out to others to provide support during a very scary and isolating time that everyone is facing in different ways. We know we can show compassion to others on an individual level by checking in on loved ones or even forming new friendships. We also know that the university is able to provide free access to textbooks, that free transit has been provided in the worst circumstances and that the government can support those in need of a livable income.
Maybe we didn’t realize we could accomplish these things in the first place and provide that safety net for people who need it most. But moving forward, we should remember that during a pandemic, we were capable of supporting each other. And that after all of this is over, we can and should do better when caring for our communities.
Let us preface this guide by telling you that if this period of uncertainty is stressing you the f*&k out, it's okay. There's quite a bit on our minds — reorganization of courses, fears over graduation, lost jobs and co-ops, forced move-outs and the sudden disruption of pretty much everything.
In more ways than one, this time is defining our present and future, and soon it will be just a single moment in our collectives histories. The details of the stories and lessons we will learn are blurry, but there's no doubt that this time presents an opportunity for our communities to re-emerge breathing a new rhythm. So slow down, discover a new pace for yourself and appreciate reflective silences. Lean into companionships with your loved ones, neighbours and strangers — especially our community members who are being disproportionately impacted right now. Nothing about this is normal, and it's okay to feel a little lost.
The Silhouette staff made this guide with McMaster undergraduate students in mind, we hope you'll find it helpful. This guide will be updated as we learn to navigate this period of change together.
Just 10 days ago, the world health organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins university, at the time of reporting there are over 300,000 confirmed cases around the world.
What we’re facing is unprecedented and chaotic. Things are moving so quickly that it is impossible to know what the next days, weeks and months will look like. And while in some ways we’re all in the same boat, we also have to recognize that the impacts of the pandemic are not the same for everyone.
Those of us who are young and otherwise healthy may, without knowing it, infect higher-risk people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older. Those who are immunocompromised, as well as people with underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, are also at greater risk of adverse outcomes should they contract the virus.
Furthermore, Canada has only 1.95 hospital beds per 1,000 people. If a certain number of people get sick at the same time, hospitals will not have enough beds or ventilators to be able to care for everyone. Practicing physical distancing, washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and disinfecting surfaces are some ways to slow the spread of the virus so that hospitals are able to respond.
Now is a time to stay isolated, but not insulated. While we are distancing ourselves physically, it is important now more than ever to form and strengthen community support networks and look out for the people most at risk. We must navigate this pandemic as individuals, but also as individuals who are a part of a larger community.
Check in with your friends and family, especially those who are at higher risk. The Disability Justice Network of Ontario and the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network have started the CareMongering-HamOnt: Hamilton Community Response to COVID19 Facebook group to connect people in the community to share resources and organize support in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The goal of the volunteer-run group is to redistribute resources and ensure that vulnerable members of the community have access to food, shelter and healthcare — look out for an article on this to come out shortly.
As vital as it is for communities to support one another, we also need support from institutions and government.
McMaster has made the right decision by cancelling classes. The university now needs to commit to supporting students, staff and faculty who are bearing the brunt of the transition. As classes move fully online, how will students with limited wifi and computer access at home be able to complete their courses? What about students who had been employed at the university or elsewhere and are now facing layoffs and financial insecurity?
How will students be supported as they move out of residence on less than a week’s notice? While international and out-of-province students may be granted special permission to stay in residence, the university has not guaranteed that students who are unable to return home for other reasons, such as unsafe living conditions, will be granted extended residence accommodations.
The Emergency Bursary Fund sponsored by the McMaster Students Union is still available for students in financial emergencies. However, there have been no mention of plans to expand this fund, despite the increased need. The McMaster administration should follow the University of Toronto in creating an emergency fund for students affected by COVID-19, or commit funds to supporting the MSU’s Emergency Bursary Fund.
In addition to students, McMaster needs to ensure that hospitality, food service and custodial staff are supported.
Custodial workers are cleaning the buildings that everyone is being told to vacate, fighting germs that may endanger their own health. Hospitality services staff are at risk every time they interact with people. While they are at risk when they come to work, they are also at risk of layoffs, as the university shuts down operations and closes facilities.
In an open letter released on March 16 entitled, “Time to take care of each other and our communities,” university president David Farrar wrote, “we are [. . .] caring and thoughtful and it is the time to show our determination to take care of each other and our communities.”
Campus staff are just as much a part of the McMaster community as any student, faculty member, or university administrator, and the university administration needs to ensure that they are supported and their needs are prioritized during this difficult time.
We all have a role to play in looking out for the most vulnerable in our communities. While we need to be physically distant, it is more important now than ever to build community, practice solidarity and be there for one another — from at least two metres apart.
Due to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, The Good Foot has decided to postpone their first in-person event. They plan to hold an Instagram live-stream on Saturday March 21 at 8 p.m. instead, in order to lift people’s spirits up during this time. Stay tuned to their social media for updates.
Ring of Fire, You Can’t Hurry Love and Hard Day’s Night; you may not be able to name a 60s song off of the top of your head, but you definitely know the words to one. Starting soon, The Good Foot will be bringing the songs of the 60s to a dance floor near you, complete with prizes for best outfit and a songlist perfect for boogying down.
The Good Foot was created by a group of local DJs, dancers and vintage fashion lovers looking to liven up the Hamilton dance scene with 60s tunes. They include owner of Girl on the Wing Whitney McMeekin, illustrator and dancer Jacqui Oakley, DJ Spaceman a.k.a Stacey Case, DJ Donna Lovejoy a.k.a Rachael Henderson and Jen Anisef of Weft projects. Anisef says that Weft projects’ aim is to create collaborative opportunities for local creators and makers.
“[I]t's like the weft are the threads that bind everything together. So the idea is to serve the community through facilitating creative collaboration. So this project, it's brought together a lot of different folks that all have different areas of interest and expertise, to throw a really fun party that is hopefully intergenerational and is just unpretentious and to celebrate dance and fashion, and have a good time,” said Anisef.
Henderson, also known as DJ Donna Lovejoy, describes herself as a Jill of all Genres, and she definitely lives up to her name. Thanks to collaborators like her, The Good Foot is set to cover songs from every nook and cranny of the 60s.
“It’s gonna be Soul, Motown, Early Funk [and a] bit of Rocksteady, Britpop, Mod, just a bit of everything,” said Henderson.
Social distancing is making it more difficult than ever to connect with other people. The Instagram live stream that The Good Foot will be running will hopefully help bring people from all walks of life together that might never have met otherwise. Anisef and Henderson say that they are hoping that their future parties can create a sense of intergenerational bonding and community.
“I think the beauty of 60s music is that most of us kind of know it deep in our soul, even as kids it was around and the music has endured so much. Plus, it's really nostalgic for older folks like the music of their youth. And I think it also really is like, it touches a lot of different cultural communities as well. So our hope is that it draws people together,” said Anisef.
Henderson says that in all of the events that she DJs, whether they be corporate events, weddings or club nights, 60s music appeals to everyone.
“I do find that 60s music crosses generations and does actually speak to a younger crowd. I'm always impressed when the younger people know all the lyrics and they get really excited,” said Henderson.
When Anisef lived in Glasgow, Vancouver and Toronto, she says that there used to be regular 60s and soul dance nights, with attendees dressing to the nines and dancing their cares away. There will be a contest for the best 60s outfit at the event, but Anisef says that everyone is welcome to come as they are.
“Some of those nights, people would really like to make an effort to dress up. And so I'm hoping that we can also build that we're trying to build that culture in the event. You don't have to, by all means come in your sweatpants and just have a great time. But if you're inspired, we'd love for people to play around and dress up,” said Anisef.
The Good Foot may not be shimmying to a dance floor near you just yet, but once everyone is safer they hope to bring the 60s back to Hamilton. In the meantime, having a 60s dance party in your very own home might just be a great way to add some spark to your day.