"Clubs are not permitted to begin scheduled COMPETITIVE training until FRIDAY MAY 29 at the earliest."
So read Gymnastics Ontario Update 4: Stage 1 Opening Framework posted to the organization website on May 15th (2020).
And while the above-noted dictum was accompanied by more than a dozen mandatory protocols as well, it wasn't exactly what the folks at the GymZone were anticipating.
"When we got the memo last week, we were honestly in shock," stated Terra Davidson, Competitive Program Director with the Sudbury Laurels at the New Sudbury facility. "We were not expecting that."
"We (gymnastics) were originally in phase three. This is great news, for us, but at the same time, we don't want to rush coming back."
Yes, Davidson is anxious for the times when she can greet all of her competitive women's artistic gymnasts at the venue they call home for pretty much twelve months of the year. The sooner, the better.
Yet like so many energetic and passionate Sudburians involved in local sports, she has not encountered any difficulty whatsoever attempting to fill the hours in a schedule that was thrown a huge curve ball, back in March, due to the global pandemic.
"I can't say that there was a void," said Davidson. "I took the time and used it to my advantage. I've kept busy, just in a different way."
The details offer a little insight into a woman who is simply not programmed to sit still. "I did Zoom with the athletes," she began. "Between the GymZone and Laurels, we did a lot of contests and challenges to stay involved with our members. We wanted to make sure the athletes are not becoming deconditioned."
"I've taken the opportunity to take on-line courses, participating in summits. We talk about the physical effects (of the pandemic), but we've also talked a lot about how this affecting the athletes mentally."
"I've had the chance to take some courses and sessions with some amazing people, professionals, right across the world, basically, which is letting me put together some documents for our members, for topics like nutrition, mental toughness, preparing yourself to get back in the gym."
As for skill specific training, Davidson noted that her gymnasts have been nothing if not creative.
"Making the best of an unfortunate situation is kind of what my philosophy has been," she said. "Some of the kids have bars, and some have items, like a chin-up bar, that you can do some stuff on. Sometimes you can take a skill and adjust - like a handstand on bars is basically a press to handstand on floor."
"Your kip on bars is like doing your leg lifts, if you have something that you can hang off of and bring your legs up. You're conditioning through the different phases of the skill. It's not like you're putting the entire skill together, but you are working some of the segments of the skill."
As for the mental training that has been discussed, Davidson finds value that extends far beyond the world of sport. "A lot of the stuff that we have listened to has been about dealing with the pandemic, specifically, but a lot of the information can be used in dealing with life, in general," she stated.
"The idea of learning to live in the moment, to accept that the feelings that you are having are alright, perfectly natural, learning to work with what you can work with."
Ironically, the ability to work together towards a common goal has been one of the pleasant outcomes of the challenge that has been faced across every corner of the globe. "The community of gymnastics in Ontario has really stepped up and gotten over not wanting to share secrets," said Davidson.
"It's been wonderful."
All of which leads to a tentative target date of May 29th, though Davidson is quick to note that a more realistic goal is likely to have at least some portion of the competitive gymnastics crew back in the gym, at some point this summer.
"I think it's promising, and I think that's the goal," she said. "There is some potential for that, as long as we have covered all of the protocols. I guess I would say that it's looking good for that direction."
And that is the most pleasant surprise of all.