Cooper’s Canadian COVID experience: How he’s coping
HAVING settled back into Canadian life, Ipswich basketballer Cooper Ward has a heartfelt message for his friends.
"That I miss everyone so much and that I hope I am making them proud,'' Ward said.
"It's tough you know. I don't really keep in contact with them cause it's so hard with the time difference and I can't talk to everyone at once.
"I just don't want to forget anyone I have met cause everyone has played a part in where I am today.''
The Ipswich product returned to Canada in October last year to continue his college scholarship with Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.
He earlier had started that overseas venture aged 18 before returning to Ipswich when last year's COVID crisis was building.
The former St Edmund's College student used his time at home to advantage, playing for Ipswich Force in last year's Queensland State League competition.
He's now back in Canada dealing with the new challenges.
"Everything is going good,'' Ward said.
"COVID-19 is still here but no cases in my area for a while. We still though have to wear masks everywhere we go.''
His team's Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Conference was cancelled by USPORTS.
"They were deciding on whether or not we were still going to have a season just with our conference then that was a no,'' the Ipswich power forward/small forward said.
"So right now we are playing no games but are looking for some exhibition games to play.
"No setbacks at the moment.
"I think though it's very challenging to have to deal with COVID-19 when all my friends don't back home (in Ipswich).''
Ward explained what training overseas with the COVID threat required.
"So every day we have to sign in and out of the gym when we go to practice,'' he said.
"We also cannot leave the Nova Scotia bubble, or it is a 14 day quarantine.
"I haven't travelled anywhere yet, just staying at the University.''
Aside from the COVID issues, Ward was determined to make the most of his time in Canada.
"Loving it here,'' he said.
"The winter hasn't been bad at all. Hardly any snow storms, which is always a positive.''
He said his favourite food "would have to be either a farmers wrap from Tim Hortons or a poutine (french fries, cheese curds, and gravy).''
While sharing his Aussie speech with his teammates, Ward is also learning a new lingo.
"I actually have been getting taught Toronto slang from some of my teammates, but yes, my teammates love to say mate and make fun of my accent,'' he said.
Ward is on his third overseas trek having also spent five and a half months at an American Academy in Atlanta from January to May in 2019.
The six foot six basketballer accepted the Canadian opportunity in August that year, eager to improve his game and attract attention.
He did that, being named Rookie of the Year in his Canadian conference and making the All-Rookie first team.
Although is missing regular chats to his Ipswich friends, Ward is trying to keep in touch with Ipswich Force teammates.
"I talk to a lot of people back home all the time just checking in and asking how everything is,'' he said.
"I stay in extremely close contact with my best friend Ethan Robinson with his basketball and how his games are going.
"Majority of the questions they ask me are just like 'how's practice, how's things in general are, if I've played any games, that sort of thing.''
Ward is also maintaining his learning schedule - a Bachelor of Arts and Community studies, majoring in sports activity leadership and also developing his public speaking.
"Studying is going great,'' he said.
"I must say online school is a challenge though but it has been a great experience that I'm looking to continue.
"I'm thinking about becoming a high school PE teacher at the moment.''
Ward shared his immediate goals.
"I'm planning on staying here this summer just due to the demands of COVID-19 and how everything is,'' the Force talent said.
"But if the borders open up for me to come home I will definitely consider it.''