This time of the COVID-19 pandemic creates an uncertain situation for a number of local athletes, as they do not know when their respective sporting disciplines will resume, but senior women’s national rugby team player Carlene “Carly” Johnson has been keeping in shape for whenever the opportunity arises for her to get back on the field competitively.
Johnson has her eyes set on becoming a professional rugby or American football player. Since March, when COVID-19 shut down sports in the country, the Grand Bahama native has kept up with exercise.
“Since the pandemic started, I have not stopped working out. I have been even more active and I am just trying to stay healthy and keep my immune system up. I have been working out and I am a personal trainer now. I do my classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On the other weekdays, I have a few other persons who I work out with,” Johnson said.
At the time, there is no definite date as to when competitive sports will resume with some degree of normalcy in the country. That is not stopping Johnson, however, from realizing her goal of one day reaching pro status.
“I plan to continue to work hard and push myself even more when I do start back at it. I am working hard because I want to be a professional athlete in either rugby or football. I was actually hoping to be off playing but due to the pandemic, everything has changed. Hopefully, by next year, I am where I am supposed to be,” Johnson said.
Those who play the sport and know how physical it is, know the difference between being in shape and being in rugby shape, Johnson said.
“I am supposed to start doing rugby again, the actual workout with rugby. I have just been trying to stay physically in shape. Hopefully, by next week, I will be back into that, and football, because I am into that as well. I only stopped because they started closing certain things down,” Johnson stated.
Almost two years ago, Johnson played in the Dubai International Invitational Tournament 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). She gained a lot of experience from that tournament and knew she needed to be more relaxed and disciplined in order to continue to progress. She scored a try in the competition, which came as no surprise, as she is very quick on her feet.
Though she was able to keep in shape, Johnson said that as an athlete, the pandemic has taken sports away from her – something she loves doing. Rugby and American football are sports she practiced every week, she said. Her club teammate, Danielle Zonicle, has been working out with her, as they push each other. At the moment, there are no team practices.
Johnson said these are mentally tough times for athletes who have resumed training then stopped because of the relaxation period as it relates to restrictions put in place by the government of The Bahamas. Johnson is requesting of her fellow athletes to not throw in the towel.
“Do not give up. I am actually doing that now, telling athletes that they do not know what life holds. With changes, everything happens for a reason. I tell them that they cannot be healthy to play but to be healthy on the whole, so that when times like these come, your body can fight whatever it is that is happening,” Johnson said.
The former track athlete added that, for her, she does not want to regress in rugby and American football, so she continues to work out.
She is ready to play competitively – on a local or foreign field.