The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone and that’s no different for student-athletes. For Mount Royal University’s sports teams and fans, the pandemic meant no games at for an entire season.

The start of games this fall was a long time coming for Scott Rivett, the head coach of the MRU women’s hockey team.

“It’s been a year and a half since we’ve gotten to play a game, so I think there is a general appreciation for us to get to do what we love,” says Rivett. “I think this year so far has had the best-attended exhibition games we’ve ever had.”

Cougars fans look on as their team battles against the University of Alberta. Photo by Josh Werle

For some student-athletes, they had a full year taken from their sports careers. First-year soccer player Ethan Keen was supposed to make his debut for the Cougars in the fall of 2020. Due to the pandemic, Keen’s debut was pushed back until the fall of 2021, forcing him to navigate through uncharted territory last year. 

Keen says, “Soccer is something that I really enjoy. Doing the school part without the soccer part was tough, I’m excited to be back.”

Ethan Keen takes part in his first-ever home game for Mount Royal University. Photo by Josh Werle

This fall, the team won a bronze medal in Canada West, after they lost a nail-biter to UBC on their home turf. That result was despite having lost their home opener, when they fell 1-0 to the University of Alberta on Oct. 2.

Even though it wasn’t the result they were looking for, simply getting to play at home and in front of a crowd was an experience that Keen had greatly missed. 

“I think we had a really good game overall, obviously we wanted to win. It’s a long season [and] we’ve got more games ahead. It was good to play at home and it was nice having the fans back.”

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