Riley Roy is about to forge ahead - just as he always has.
Where some find frustration with circumstances beyond their control, Roy sees opportunities.
The multi-dimensional local athlete and young business entrepreneur has launched a youth field lacrosse league this summer/fall, with 65 registrants kicking off practice and assessment sessions last week at the James Jerome Sports Complex.
"To be honest with you, this wasn't even on the horizon for me initially," noted the Sports Administration student at Laurentian University, who created Northern Built Sports while mixing in his athletic pursuits that would see the Lively native compete at the varsity level in both football (Waterloo Warriors) and field lacrosse (Laurentian Voyageurs).
While the majority of sports have published Return to Play guidelines, very few have actually staged competitive games, especially within the realm of the team sports. "I kind of figured this was the perfect time to fill a void that the community needs," he said.
"Other than baseball, I don't think that there is a better social distancing team sport than field lacrosse. It's a big field, and there aren't that many people on the field. This will give those kids who missed out on the spring (box lacrosse) season an opportunity to continue in lacrosse."
While Roy emphasized that the league is a privately run initiative under the umbrella of his athletic training company, he has tapped into contacts within the Ontario Lacrosse Association to ensure that his offering for local kids is following the necessary protocols.
"Our league has made some small changes to standard field lacrosse rules," he stated. "There is no body checking allowed at all. The only contact that we are allowing is stick to body, or stick to stick."
The children, who have been broken into three separate divisions (8-9-10 / 11-12 / 13-14-15), will utilize the next two to three weeks to get up to speed in a sport that has been played only sparsely, in Sudbury, over the years.
"Because field lacrosse is not that popular here, that gives us all of August to basically practice and teach how the game is to be played," said Roy. "It is different than box lacrosse - different positions, different equipment."
While the age brackets used in forming divisions were slightly more broad than what would be deemed ideal, Roy noted that the lack of body checking and the time spent on talent assessment should help ensure that similar skill sets are playing together, while also recognizing the age factor as well.
It's not as though Roy is walking in blind. Not only has he run training programs in recent years for several different sports, including football and field lacrosse, but he and his instructors have actually been working with young athletes, on the turf, for roughly the past six weeks this summer.
"Our groups are not intertwining - we're keeping our social circles, I guess you could call it," he said. "There is a 30-minute break between field times. That allows us time to disinfect our equipment and make sure we keep everything clean."
"We make sure to communicate with parents, even simple pandemic reminders with regards to symptoms. While we have had parents ask questions, to make sure precautions are in place, we haven't had any concerns, yet."
As for actual head to head competition, the youngsters will have to be just a little more patient. "With the city allowing more and more re-opening, we are going to begin the actual competition, with games starting in September."
And though he is anxious to move forward with his new league, Roy acknowledged that variances across the province, in terms of exactly what is or is not being allowed in various venues, can be perplexing, to all involved.
"I have a good relationship with the people at the city," he said. "During these times, we understand they want to be cautious, our safety is their number one priority. But organizations like ours in Peterborough, Barrie, Toronto have all of their fields open and are competing with seven on seven."
"It's been a little bit difficult for us, having to watch that and wonder - why can't we be doing that?"
Thankfully, there is a long-term vision that Roy has maintained, one which he hopes will take the next step in about eight or nine months time. "What I am planning for, in the spring of 2021, is an elite field lacrosse team," he said.
"We would be hosting tryouts in Sudbury, North Bay, New Liskeard and Sault Ste Marie. We would be creating a northern Ontario team that will play in tournaments in Michigan, Ohio, Baltimore. We had nine local players last year travelling to events with Evolve Lacrosse."
In the mind of Riley Roy, there really is no reason that very same program cannot be offered on a local level - offered by someone with a willingness to continue to push ahead.