Virtual has become the new wave with all the restrictions and precautions the COVID-19 pandemic has brought along.
The CFL combine will be joining that wave as announced on Jan. 22. Players will be expected to film themselves doing physical testing, take their own measurements, and then send them to the league by April.
It will be nothing like the past as is the case for one invitee, Carleton Ravens defensive linemen Alain Cimankinda, but it does have its positives due to the comfort of working out where he normally gets to on his own time.
“Nothing really changes for me,” said Cimankinda. “I actually believe we’re better off with a virtual one just because it doesn’t force you to have a tight schedule.”
“It allows players time to make sure they’re getting ready properly and then test and record all their numbers with their measurements the way the league asks them for it and just send it to them. It gives you the time to just chill and make sure you’re doing things right.”
Without the pressure of being watched by team representatives, along with a choice of setting players are more comfortable training in, there is a sense of ease with what a virtual combine can bring.
Some more behind than others
On the other hand, there is an effect for players who have a further way to go with their training, especially due to worries about COVID-19 due to their living situation or worrying for themselves.
“I know some guys that didn’t really feel comfortable going out there and getting the work in and bringing it back to their parents,” said the Congolese native. “It’s tough in that sense just because we have less to prepare with, gyms all being closed since December, and just from their scheduling, we have from now until April to send in the virtual films and numbers that we need to send.
“For some [if lockdowns are lifted by early February], that would give you just a month and a couple of weeks just to get ready to test which is way less time than guys had in previous years. That might be affecting other people differently.”
Not the same effect
That time frame does not bother Cimankinda, though, because of the way he’s long done things.
He has always taken the time to really understand how his body works. The Carleton alumnus is constantly adjusting his physical frame and weight depending on his opponents, while still managing to keep himself in shape. This effort in understanding what he can do with his body and the work he puts in has afforded him the luxury for such a timeline to work for him.
“I realized I wasn’t able to do those other workouts but there’s still an opportunity for me to improve myself. I’ve been working on mental reps, watching more film, studying myself, working on my technique, doing small stuff, working on the fundamentals,” the defensive lineman said.
“It takes me about a month to a month-and-a-half to get into [top] game shape and that’s what I did last summer after the first quarantine. I’m hoping to do the same thing again, just going to keep on improving mentally, improving technique-wise.”
His process was different from others, finding out his draft year was 2021, not 2020 after not getting an invite to the 2019 East-West Bowl game, after coming to Guelph from New Mexico Military Institute, a junior college in the U.S. From there, having the opportunity to come a bit later in the process for the 2020 CFL draft because of being on pace to graduate that year but choosing to play it safe instead. Cimankinda, now, finally gets his chance to achieve what he strived for this spring.