Taylor Scott was looking forward to a season of firsts: playing her first RSEQ game as a member of the Ottawa University Gee Gees, registering her first point, scoring her first goal.
Instead, she was introduced to her first Zoom call - and several thereafter, the preferred method of communication for most sports teams these days, in the midst of a global pandemic.
"I don't think any of us expected to be in this position where almost a year later, we are still in lockdown," said Scott on Monday. "It's kind of annoying, honestly. I want to live my life, go to university and play hockey."
Few are those who do not share, to some extent, in the frustration being felt by the 18 year old former Sudbury Lady Wolves' forward. But just like all of us, Scott is trying to make the best of it.
Summer workouts were conveyed via an app from the team's personal trainer. "Sometimes, we would do challenges within the team, just to try and keep our competitiveness up and make sure everyone is doing something," she said.
While on-line meetings are not ideal, the notion of on-line off-season get togethers for teams with players spread right across Ontario and Quebec might well survive beyond COVID-19.
"Even though I really didn't get to know my team or talk to them very much through Zoom, we were still meeting as a team," noted Scott. "That made it more comfortable for me, just kind of getting to know what people looked like before even going to Ottawa."
"I think that was a good ice-breaker, for sure."
For the short time the Gee Gees were on the ice, typically in groups of ten of less in the months of September and October, practices resembled little of what Scott and her teammates had come to know.
"We were on the ice, but not like an actual practice, more like a skills session, I would say. We worked on stickhandling and worked on our edges while stickhandling, going around cones, flipping pucks over sticks, things like that."
"I definitely don't do that during a regular flow drill."
Given the set-up, Scott is not 100% sure yet exactly which forward position that she will play, come time for the 2021-2022 campaign. "I would rather be on the wing," said the Human Kinetics major who has experience playing all three slots from her time in Sudbury.
"I actually don't mind playing my off wing. I like how in the offensive zone I can roll off the wall and be on my forehand. I don't mind being on my off wing, honestly."
After spending the fall and early winter in Ottawa, Scott has returned home to continue her studies on-line, given the current lockdown. It's also availed her to a few benefits that she might not enjoy in the nation's capital.
"My grandparents live on a lake, so I've been trying to get on the ODR ("Outdoor Rink") as much as possible, just to skate and shoot pucks," she said. "It's not that big of a lake, but it's ice."
In 2021, we've learned to appreciate what we have.