York9 FC’s Jimmy Brennan: COVID-19 delay ‘guessing game’ ends with return to training

York9 FC’s Jimmy Brennan was trying to complete an equation without values.

The Nine Stripes were cleared to return to training on Tuesday along with Atlético Ottawa, ending a two-and-a-half-month-long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

York9 and Ottawa will enter similar protocols as HFX Wanderers FC and Pacific FC – clubs cleared to train by local governments earlier this week – which features a CPL-mandated multi-phase approach to training, starting with non-contact individual or small group workouts.

“There’s a science behind planning this kind of self-isolation training, but a science that’s missing something: a definitive start date,” Brennan told

“So you can build your program backwards. We were steadily trying to keep active and playing a guessing game of when that return could come.”

For Brennan, the “guessing” at a potential start date for the 2020 season was a serious part of the COVID-19 delay as his players continued individual workout programs in self-isolation.

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“The main goal was to give our players a good base when we get the call to come back to training,” Brennan said. “We need to be ready to go straight into tactics. Last thing we would want is to not have enough time to prepare.”

York9 returned from pre-season training camp in Florida on March 14 and entered a 14-day isolation period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, two weeks of training at home is an easy proposition – naive as that thought appears in retrospect.

But, as Brennan points out, COVID-19’s indefinite hold on the CPL had limited him and his coaching staff from any training escalation – no periodized increase in training workload towards a goal.

Max Ferrari during York9 FC training in Florida. (York9 FC photo).
Max Ferrari during York9 FC training in Florida. (York9 FC photo).

“It’s a holding pattern, keeping them active until you can ramp them up. You can’t keep it like that. So you need to keep them managed, make sure they’re doing their runs,” Brennan stated.

“What you can’t do is bump up to a higher intensity.”

Despite the unusual lead-up, Brennan is content with this pre-season, saying players have been motivating each other through fitness tracking data. Word is midfielder Chris Mannella has been leading on their fitness tracker, not to say it’s a competition.

“We can see their fitness data, and the other players can, so we’re all pushing each other,” Brennan explained. “We’ve been working carefully with them every day, physios have been keeping in touch, sending in reports, they’ve been keeping on the programs.

“With our guys, I’m very proud of them. They’ve been very, very professional, handled themselves well, overall I’ve been very impressed. I think we’ve kept our guile and done our best.”

Like many, Brennan had been restless, yet ready, to take to the pitch, once cleared by governing bodies and regional governments.

“We just needed a date to bump up the intensity and, most importantly, see how far we need to go.”