GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – With the Exploits Hurricanes’ invitational snowshoeing competition just a few weekends away, all coach Colleen Ryan wants to see is some snow.
Not only does the competition itself need it to be successful, but Ryan’s group of nine athletes also need it to train properly.
On Sunday, Jan. 28, with outside conditions far from adequate for snowshoeing, Ryan and her athletes were at Woodland Primary preparing as best they could without being outside in the snow.
“The focus now is running but running in a gym and running on snowshoes is totally different. I had to up their running tonight because we’ve only been out a couple of times on snowshoes, and we would practice our starts and things like that, but now we have to focus on our running,” the head coach said after the Jan. 28 practice.
“We were planning on being at Centennial Field this afternoon, but when I drove by there was a lot of ice and water, so we had to bring it inside.”
Four athletes joined Ryan at Woodland Primary, as the rest were out of town. The group did a lot of running in the school’s gymnasium, and Ryan said there was a reason they did so much.
“We’re getting them used to actually getting tired and knowing what it’s like,” said Ryan. “That’s what they’re going to feel at the competition.”
The invitational is scheduled for Feb. 24-25 at the Exploits Valley Cross-Country Ski Club. Clubs from across the province will be here competing, and Ryan said everyone associated with the club can’t wait to host visiting athletes.
Before the date gets here, however, there’s a lot of training to do and Ryan said she looks forward to preparing an “eager” group.
“All of them are just so eager, and really, truly have a real positive mind for it,” said Ryan. “As you probably heard tonight, the topic of conversation was snow, and wanting to get out in the snow and snowshoe.
“Especially now with our competition being held here in Grand Falls-Windsor, it’s pretty exciting for everybody.”
The local contingent will consist of nine competitors: Melvin Hanhams, Amanda Collins, Evan Wicks, Isaac Sharpe, Shianne McDonald, Robyn Cater, Allison Reid, Sarah Moore and David Keough.
Once they hit the trail, Ryan said her goal is for the group to try their best and finish.
“It’s not so much about winning a race. Even though they enjoy winning a race and getting a medal or a ribbon, for me, it’s all about them showing up and doing their best,” said Ryan. “We’ve had athletes fall, get back up and cross the finish line, and it would be such a joyous moment because they finished. They would be sad initially, but they later saw it as a big thing, and that’s how we look at it. That’s our focus and that’s our goal.
“You can finish first, fifth, eighth, whatever, there’s always a high-five at the end.”
Residents may have heard and read advertisements from the club looking for volunteers at the invitational.
They started a blitz, and Ryan is proud to say they have enough volunteers.
The response, she said, was heartwarming.
“It made my heart melt. It really, truly did.”