Student Athlete Feature: Jessica Kouleas
Meet Jessica Kouleas, a student athlete.
In this fourth student athlete feature, we introduce you to Jessica Kouleas – a first-year Management Economics and Finance student at the University of Guelph, and a player on the Guelph Gryphons women’s hockey team.
Tomas Karageorgos is the sports reporter for EMERGE News NOW, and conducted a Q&A with Jessica to talk about how she has been staying active during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When you get to play your first season with Guelph, what will be most important for you with balancing school and hockey?
I think it will be kind of the same as when I was in grades 11 and 12 playing juniors – just being on top of everything. I think if your priorities are straight and you’re organized, it’s so much easier. Once one thing falls, everything can kind of get out of whack. If I keep organized and stay on top of everything, I’ll be able to manage everything really well.
What has your routine been like since the pandemic began?
When the pandemic first hit, I was training in the gym with my team, and with my sister at home and we were on the ice obviously. It was really a transition from weights to not having many weights and other equipment like that at home – so it was all running based and biometric workouts. At first it was kind of challenging, but I’m a smaller player so it’s okay for me to build lean muscle, that’s what I was trying to do from home. I just did that through online research like YouTube, looking at programs on my own.
When summer began, Guelph’s training coach Josh Ford started sending me workouts that I could do from home, which was really helpful because it was hockey-specific. Once I got into Guelph and the gyms opened, I took advantage of being able to go those extra sessions. We trained twice a week but then I would go to a third session as well just to get extra workouts in. In terms of school it was kind of the same thing, it was a bit of a transition to obviously always being in the classroom to now being online. I just had more time now on my hands so it was figuring out what to do with that.
What do you miss most about playing?
I miss everything about it because hockey was such a big part of my life, and it was something that was taken away from me and I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I just miss being with the team and working towards a common goal – hockey was my everything and not having that has been really challenging. Once I get to be with everyone again then it’s going to be so nice, it’s going to feel like we’re so refuelled, and rested and ready to give our all.
What memories do you want to make on the ice with the Gryphons?
For sure this year I didn’t get to make the memories that I was expecting to make – but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for what I did get to do. Our coaches were really interactive in the sense where we would meet up, social distance with the team, we’d have Zoom calls with the team. We played disc golf and we’d meet at the arboretum and have a little community circle or go for a walk.
I think that the main thing I was going into the season wanting to do is connect with the girls and the team. And I think that maybe I didn’t get to do it to the same extent that I would have normally, but I definitely got to build good friendships and relationships that I’m just going to continue to grow going in to when we do actually have a season.
Watch Jessica’s feature here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G63Sap5eJzk&t=976s