The pandemic brought numerous daily activities to a halt, and sports were no exception. Now that over 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians are vaccinated, U of T student athletes are going back to competing and getting into the routine of balancing their academics with their athletic careers. 

One of these students is Michael Lamacchia, a second-year kinesiology student and defender for the Varsity Blues men’s lacrosse team, who missed out on competing for the Varsity Blues last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Varsity talked to Lamacchia about returning to sports after the pandemic as a student athlete.

The Varsity: How are you feeling about getting to play lacrosse at the university level after the long break?

Michael Lamacchia: It’s really nice, honestly. The difference between high school and university seasons is that high school lacrosse runs in the spring, and the university level runs in the fall. So, coming from high school, it’s actually almost been two years because we didn’t get that spring season in grade 12. For [people in my year], we missed out on grade 12 and then the first year of university. So that’s two whole seasons gone. It’s just great to have a game again. The atmosphere was amazing. We had a lot of people come out, luckily. It was great to see.

TV: What do you find is the key to balancing your athletics and academics at U of T?

ML: What I do is I have a schedule on my phone using a calendar app and I always try to book times for studying because I know, for me, it takes roughly an hour to do a chapter of a reading. So if I see I have an hour between classes, usually I’ll block that off for study time, because I know I can do a chapter in that hour. So I’ll use that to get ahead on my readings, or I’ll just find time in between classes, after classes, or in between classes and practice to get a reading done. Even on commutes, I’ll try and get some reading done on the bus; I’ll download my textbook on my phone and just flip through it there. So at least there are ways to get it done. It’s all about allocating time: recognizing when you have space and just fitting it in.

TV: What is an aspect of your game that has improved during the pandemic?

ML: I used to be more out of shape before the pandemic, back in high school. And given the time of the pandemic, between high school and university, I was able to use that to actually better myself and get in better shape. I was grateful for that because I had the time and energy from stepping back from school during the pandemic to just take care of myself and get healthier. With schools closed, for example, it was easier to go play wall ball because there wouldn’t be an issue of disrupting a class because you’re throwing a ball against the wall when they were close by.

TV: What goals do you have for yourself as a student and as an athlete at U of T?

ML: Well, I know U of T does a thing — I forgot the exact name, but they give [an award] to people who have an average of 80 per cent or higher. So I’ve always made that my goal to try and stay at that average, 80 per cent or above, so I can strive for that [award]. And then as an athlete — just getting better, improving all the time with my stick skills, my defensive awareness and overall play IQ, my conditioning and speed as well. Overall, I am trying to become a better athlete while also making sure my academics are always exemplary.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.