Athletes adjust to new COVID-19 sports world

Matt Olszewski

Senior Sports Writer

 

COVID-19 has affected everyone in one way or another. The transition to college has been quite the challenge for athletes especially, given that they are used to a routine revolving around academics, social life and athletics all at the same time. Despite the restrictions and protocols in place, there are still ways to spend time with teammates and practice in order to improve.

The College announced in early August that all travel for sports and competitions against other schools would not be allowed for the 2020 fall season. This came as a disappointment to athletes, but not a surprise. Additionally, the NCAA cancelled all Division-II and Division-III Championships this fall. Athletes have been trying to find new ways to stay close with teammates while also being safe,
as well as ways to stay in touch with coaches until practices and
competitions can resume without current restrictions. The current
fall sports at Wooster are men’s and women’s golf, football, men’s
and women’s soccer, field hockey and men’s and women’s cros country.

Molly Kershner ’24, a lacrosse player, described what the transition to college has been like and how this fall has already been different than what she expected, “Since lacrosse is a spring sport, we usually use fall as an off-season training time.This would mean small sided
practices and running to stay in shape … Because of COVID, the goals have not been up on the turf, so most of us have been
meeting on the field to run and pass, [from a safe distance].”
She also voiced her feelings about not being able to spend as
much time with her teammates on and off the field. “I have been  looking forward to playing college lacrosse for years now, and not being able to fully meet and interact with the team makes me
sad. Lacrosse is a big part of my life, so this past spring, as well as now in the fall, it is weird having so much downtime where I  normally would be spending it with my teammates.” She made
sure to add that she and her teammates are staying optimis-
tic and are taking advantage of being able to practice in groups
of 10 or fewer.

Captain Ashley Boersma ’21, chimed in about how Coach Elizabeth Ford has been helping the team stay in touch with one another. “In addition to being in communication with captains to discuss a plan for this fall, [Ford] has been checking in on us and our transition back to Wooster.” With regards to this fall and spring, Boersma is
looking on the bright side. “I am most excited to be back with my teammates making memories and preparing for [hopefully] one last spring season despite the unusual circumstances.”

During these times, it has also been important for athletes to remember why they are a team and what keeps them close. Maggie Brown ’21, one of the field hockey captains, added how her coaches continuously update the team and set up Zoom calls to keep in
touch. She added, “This team is so hardworking, and I think this challenge will be better for us in the future. We work so hard during the off seasons, and even during the season we all put in extra work to be better for next season.”

Shane Wallace ’21, a men’s lacrosse player, was asked the same question. “One thing that will be very helpful this fall is that our team is truly a family. Last year we all developed a really strong bond before [COVID-19], and the hardships we endured as our season was canceled before our eyes made those bonds even stronger. I’m confident we’ll be ready for anything this fall throws at us,” he said. Men’s and women’s sports were able to begin practicing
Monday, Sept. 7 in groups of 10 or fewer. The target date for the
next phase is Monday, Sept. 21, in which coaches will be able to
begin coaching their teams in groups of 50 or fewer. The final phase gives permission for groups larger than 50 to practice with coaches. These dates could change in accordance with public health guidelines; however, as of now athletes will be able to enjoy more freedom with regards to practicing and scrimmaging.

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