At the beginning of March, Ethan Woods was looking forward to the stretch drive of the National Lacrosse League’s regular season and starting his new job as a nurse at Meaford’s Long-Term Care Centre.
Just weeks later, the NLL regular season was cancelled and his new job became an essential front-line health-care position in the battle against COVID-19.
“It’s definitely stressful. Things are always changing, and I feel like everywhere you go . . . it’s COVID-19. I feel like you can’t escape it. That’s the stressful thing for me, there’s no way to get away from it,” Woods said.
The Owen Sound native was in his sophomore season as a goaltender with the New England Black Wolves professional lacrosse team when the global pandemic took hold locally.
The Black Wolves were coming off a big win in Philadelphia when the NBA and NHL postponed their season.
Woods and his teammates were scheduled to play in Buffalo and then at home against Calgary in a back-to-back weekend series, but those plans were put on hold.
The rest of the regular season was cancelled soon after.
“We felt like we were just hitting our stride . . . we weren’t sure if anyone was going to be able to stop us or slow us down. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for our group, for sure,” he said. “We’ve been holding out hope for the playoffs, but it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.”
In the meantime, Woods has been thrown into the deep end of his career path by starting a job at a long-term care home shortly before they became the epicentre of the disease across the country.
“It makes you question, for sure, if you know what you’re doing with the PPE and the protocols . . . I think it may be a good thing that I am fresh out of school because that stuff is still fresh in the back of my mind,” he said. “I’m lucky that I work with some pretty special people that are always there to help and lend a hand.”
So far, no one at his home has tested positive for the virus. As of Monday morning, only one person from Meaford has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
When Woods has a day off, he lays low, not wanting to put himself at risk of potentially contracting the virus and bringing it into work and potentially spreading it to the residents.
On Monday, a scheduled off-day, he worked out at home in the morning.
“I have to get creative and innovative because I lack the equipment,” he said.
He said he’ll spend the rest of the day prepping meals for the week, doing laundry, and hanging out with his new Golden Retriever puppy.
Sports are never too far out of mind. Woods said he talks with some of the residents about his other career, and they share some of their sports stories with him.
“It’s kind of nice to talk to them about sports and show them videos of me playing, or seeing pictures of them playing back in the day . . . it’s good, and hopefully, it helps distract from what’s going on right now,” he said. “They’re kind of getting cabin fever. I imagine it’s a lot more difficult for them than someone like myself . . . they’re living it 24/7.”
And he still holds out hope that those NLL playoffs will begin someday, even if the stretch-drive turned into a bit of a stretch marathon.
The NBA and NHL have started to plan for a re-opening to conclude their seasons in some capacity, and Woods thinks because a lot of the NLL teams share owners with teams in those leagues that the NLL may not be far behind.
“Once they start opening their facilities we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to play too, there’s been talk about having the playoffs in Toronto because that’s the least amount of travel for the people involved,” he said.
The Black Wolves drafted the six-foot-four netminder 31st-overall in the National Lacrosse League’s 2018 draft.
He’s been serving as the team’s back-up goaltender and got his first taste of professional action earlier this season.