Jade and Jewel Lew are a year apart in age.
But when the Port Moody sisters take to the field hockey pitch for York University in Toronto in September, they’ll both essentially be freshmen.
Jade, a goalkeeper, headed to the Lions last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out her first competitive U Sports season.
This year, Jewel is joining her sister as a mid-fielder/forward.
The Heritage Woods secondary grad said there was little doubt where the next step in her field hockey journey would take her.
“It was always going to be York,” she said. “It was a pretty easy decision.”
While the younger Lew was also deprived of her senior high school season, she did get to play some matches with her club team last fall until further public health restrictions in November shut them down again.
Still, Jewel said, she feels more excited than nervous about competing for a place among older players with more experience at the post-secondary level.
Having her older sister there as well is a big part of that.
Through the recruiting process and over their summer together, Jewel has been able to mine Jade for information about the team’s environment and dynamics and how she might fit in.
Jade said her sister should have no problem
“She’s super competitive and she’s a hard worker. She’ll be able to transition super easily.”
Jade said losing her first season to the pandemic was tough.
But it did allow her to get her feet under herself academically and the bonds she forged with teammates and other athletes on campus is probably stronger for their shared experiences during lockdown.
One of those was the monotony of training without the payoff of competition. When even that was shut down in the late fall because of rising infection rates in Ontario, athletes had to get creative.
Jade, and some of the other athletes living in her dorm, took to the stairs, climbing all 14 flights in their tower, riding the elevator down then ascending up the stairwell again.
“It was hard,” she said. “We felt lost without practice.”
So far, things seem on track for a competitive season this fall.
Ontario University Athletics has pared the women’s field hockey schedule down to eight games to be played within a team’s four-side division. The status of a national championship has yet to be determined.
But with infection rates on the rise in parts of Canada due to the highly contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, there’s still uncertainty about whether those plans will be realized.
Jade said she expects much of the first few weeks back at school and on the pitch will be about mental preparation, restoring the rhythms of training and game preparation, working on set plays and communication.
“We have to make sure we’re all on the same page,” she said.
And with everyone on the team, from seniors to freshman, missing the same pages from a season lost, the opportunity is there for newcomers to make an impression.
“When you’re on the team, it’s every man for themselves,” Jewel said.