He couldn’t work out in a gym because they were closed to due the COVID-19 pandemic, and he couldn’t skate with teammates due to social-distancing rules and arena closures.
In fact, there were times when Jonathan Holloway wondered if there would even be a junior-hockey season to train for at all.
But rather than sulk, he used the opportunity to do something he’d always wanted to do, but never had: he went surfing.
“I’d always wanted to try it, but I’d never gone for it. Then my buddy invited me to go this summer,” said the 19-year-old goaltender, who is in his third season with the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s White Rock Whalers.
So a few times during the offseason, Holloway packed up his Jeep and headed for Vancouver Island, where he camped with his friends and dipped his toes in the waters of the surfing world.
An avid outdoorsman to begin with, the new activity also helped keep him in shape for the fall, when he stepped back onto the ice with the Whalers for the 2020-21 season that is currently on a two-week break due to a provincial health order that has suspended all indoor sports.
“The first time we went, I slowly started getting it, and then by the second time we went, it started clicking,” he said.
“It was a really fun experience, but it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn.”
The difference between learning to surf, and learning almost any other sport, he noted, was that with other sports, you can adjust things “so you can manage.” If you’re learning to play basketball and you find the hoop is too high for you to start with, you can lower it, for example.
No such adjustments are available with surfing. Instead, you’re at the mercy of the waves.
“You just have to play it by ear. You don’t have a lot of control out there,’ Holloway laughed.
Surfing wasn’t the only outdoor activity the New Westminster resident undertook during the offseason as way to augment or replace his traditional training routine. He went hiking as much as he could at a variety of Lower Mainland locations, including popular trails at Buntzen Lake in Port Moody; and he also spent time wakeboarding and kayaking.
He even dusted off his old bike and went for a few rides – something he hadn’t done in years.
The outdoor activity was a welcome respite from his day-to-day routine, which included hours in front of a computer as he took online classes at Simon Fraser University.
“I was in school all summer, so I was eager to get out of my room and into sunlight every chance I got,” said Holloway, who has since transferred to UBC.
“I’ve always liked doing stuff outside, and I never really looked at it before as a way to stay in shape or stay active – it was just something I enjoyed.
“I was just trying to be outside as much as possible.”
While his fitness progress was often hard to track – “In the gym, it’s easier to see when you’re hitting markers,” he said – Holloway said his outdoor regimen definitely had a positive effect.
“It was different in the sense that the things I was doing were full-body workouts, whether it was hiking or surfing,” he said, adding that he felt some sore muscles after his first days on a surfboard and the bike.
“When I’m in the gym, I focus on a certain (muscle) group that day, so these (new) workouts were a little different. I think cardio-wise, it was actually better for me.”
While Holloway intends to keep up with his new outdoor pursuits, even after he is able to return to a more traditional workout regimen, his focus for the time being, he said, is staying sharp for when the PJHL returns to game action.
The Whalers have played four regular-season games so far – and sit with a 3-1 win-loss record – but have been sidelined since Nov. 8, when the new provincial health order suspended all indoor sports that include close contact.
“I think it was in the back of everybody’s heads that this was something that could happen,” Holloway said of the shutdown.
“But it did feel like it blindsided us a little bit because even though cases were going up, it seemed like for us (in the PJHL) and other sports as a whole… we’d been running pretty smoothly. There hasn’t been a (positive) case in our league, and there was just the one in the BCHL. I had a feeling this might happen, but I thought it would be because we had cases in our league or something.”
Nevertheless, he remains optimistic that his league – and others – will return by the end of the month, and an extended lock-down scenario won’t sideline them any longer.
“We’ve been following all the rules, so we’re hoping we can get back to playing games, because after all that’s happened, being able to play games, that was really fun,” he said, adding that he’s getting tired of facing shots from his teammates, day in and day out at practice.
“I know what they’re all gonna do now with the puck now. I need some new guys (to shoot on me).”