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Playing Junior A During A Pandemic

Playing Junior A In A Pandemic

A Player's Perspective ~ written by Don Klepp

Third-year Viper defenceman Trey Taylor has a mature attitude regarding the challenges faced by team owners, players, and fans during a global pandemic. team owners, players, and fans during a global pandemic.

First, Trey is extremely grateful for the chance to play in the current situation. He says, "Any time you can lace up your skates and play a real game, that's a good day. We're thankful. I mean, lots of good players aren't currently getting that chance. It's unbelievable what the BCHL and the Vipers have done for us."

Veterans such as Trey who plan to play college hockey next year are especially thankful for the chance to develop and get ready for college. (Trey is committed to New York State's Clarkson University for next year.) "This is a big year," he says. "At this stage in our Junior career, we need to continue to develop so that we can make that next step. And you improve yourself by playing games, which is what the BCHL is providing. Plus, I'm aware that our Junior hockey years are some of the best years of our lives, so I'm glad that we're not losing a whole year."

However, the players really miss their fans as Trey explains: "The fans bring energy to the games. That's especially true of Vernon's amazing fans who are very aware of the nuances of the game, such as blocking shots or chipping the puck off the glass to preserve a lead late in the game."

He adds, "Without the fans we try to create our own energy on the bench. As a veteran player, I'm conscious of the need to help compensate for the energy the fans normally provide."

Trey and his teammates are also aware of their team's financial challenge resulting from playing in empty buildings. "We know that all the teams are taking a big hit, so if we can't get fans coming through the turnstiles, our families will have to help make up the shortfall. I'm sure that all our families are on board with that."

He continues, "Our billets have been fantastic. We're aware of the risks they take in accepting players into their homes and we're grateful that they continue to take us in."

In return, the players have made a point of respecting their billets' wishes, such as how many people may be invited into a home. "In a normal year, all the players often congregate at a public place or a private home but this year we're basically following the protocols about a maximum of six people at a time."

The players carefully follow COVID-19 protocols such as wearing a mask on the bus or while going into an arena or other public place. "And we're very conscious of social distancing and washing our hands. We obey the rules, just like the other teams in the Okanagan cohort. Our team has been really good about being responsible members of the community. In addition to helping protect our health and the health of others, we have a responsibility of being role models for the kids in our community."

"I guess it comes down to the idea that we should do what the overall society can do and should do. If everybody would show discipline and self-restraint, we could get to the point where fans could be allowed into games and our season could resume with some degree of normalcy."

Trey's final word on the subject is directed to Viper fans: "Take care. Stay safe and stay healthy. We miss you!"