The province is now headed into the second spring and summertime sports seasons since the pandemic hit and athletes are happy to just play, even if it looks different.
When COVID-19 really hit Manitoba in mid-March of 2020, it was in the peak season of junior high and high school basketball finals and playoffs.
"We, unfortunately, had to end a lot of championships right in mid-stream when the health orders at the time were given (we didn't even know what health orders were at the time), it was a shock to the system," says Adam Wedlake, the Executive Director at Basketball Manitoba.
Within 24 hours, Wedlake recalls the NBA and NCAA, two of the biggest Basketball associations in the world, shut down. That's when it became a reality to him that moving forward in sports would be vastly different.
In April, May, and June of 2020, there was no movement on organized sports of any kind. Wedlake says in early July the restrictions eased slightly and then there was one more level of opening before everything got shut down a second time in late fall.
"It's been a rollercoaster for sure. Last July we felt like we were out of the darkness, this is step one of the five-phase plan that we were following from Canada Basketball, our national body."
At first, there were six kids allowed in a gym at their own hoops. Then it changed to allow for two kids per hoop, up to 12 people individually practising and using their own balls.
"Looking at this spring, with the public health orders in March, it allowed up to 10 players in a practice environment that could really practice and compete within your group, in a scrimmage type of environment and it was a major step forward."
Coaches started players in a 3-on-3 style and are now moving into a 5-on-5 person style. Kids and teenagers playing basketball must still wear a mask throughout the entire time, on and off the court.
"I understand the mask requirement because the practices are happening indoors. Any sport indoors requires a mask on right now. It doesn't take much to get sweaty and the breathing component is something nobody is used to. If it comes down to, I can play basketball or I can't, tell me what I got to do to play. The feel is that I'd rather wear a mask and play than not play."
Wedlake is anticipating new health orders but says that with what is happening to the provinces on either side of Manitoba right now, he understands if things don't change much.
"Next week at this time, I believe the 15th of April is when the next orders are set to change or expire. Outdoor basketball is definitely what we're looking at as the safest option because you're outside," he says.
Wedlake says that normally basketball is played indoors year-round when it comes to playing as a team sport in competition, but this spring and summer may see more outdoor play to allow for further distancing.
"For us, long-term planning these days is like two weeks. Normally long-term planning we'd be talking about stuff happening next year. In the life of a pandemic, two weeks is like a lifetime. A lot can change."
This statement is true for all spring and summer organized sports such as soccer and baseball that are looking to run some sort of season this year as well.