Category Archives: Sports

Knowing your body: iron deficiencies in endurance athletes

Zoe Covey

Chief Copy Editor

 

Athletes are often encouraged to learn the science behind their training. Why they should eat carbs or protein, why they need so much sleep and why the ferritin level of their blood should never get too low. Information sheets about all of these topics are often distributed to young endurance athletes by their coaches and, by the time they reach adulthood, they might think they already know everything they need to.

Aerobic exercise with low iron levels in the blood is painful. Oxygen can’t get to your body fast enough and no matter how many great, gasping gulps of air you take, you can’t keep up. Once you learn that it might be low iron, everyone tells you that it’s normal. This often happens to runners, especially runners who menstruate. Runners who menstruate also tend to have lower concentrations of hemoglobin — an essential protein for transporting oxygen throughout the body.

So why does this happen? What happens when we engage in aerobic exercise? A 1985 study measured changes in formed elements of the blood (cellular elements within the plasma: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets — Over 99 percent of the formed elements are red blood cells) in female high school cross country runners, looking at the hematocrit (the number of formed cells in your blood), hemoglobin concentration, white blood cell count and red blood cell count. Measurements were taken twice at the beginning, middle and end of the season both before exercise and soon after. The study found a slight decrease in hematocrit, an increase in hemoglobin concentration over the course of the season, slight increases in white blood cell count and, notably, major red blood cell count increases.

An important role of red blood cells is to carry oxygen throughout the body, and aerobic exercise requires this function to be done quickly and often. Aerobic athletes often have an abundance of red blood cells because their bodies feel the demand of constant exercise, and build more red blood cells in order to maintain the level of activity. This is why training at altitude is popular with endurance athletes; the lack of oxygen in the air naturally stimulates more red blood cell development. This increase, no matter how it is achieved, is what long-distance runners refer to as endurance: it’s just more working red blood cells. The key word there is “working.” Hemoglobin must be bound to iron in order to attach to oxygen, and if this reaction does not occur, oxygen can not be picked up from the lungs as we breathe and then circulated throughout the body. It is important to note that endurance athletes may have a red blood cell count that falls within the “normal” range, but their activity level is still too difficult to maintain because they struggle to circulate oxygen effectively, as the red blood cells are rendered useless without iron bound to hemoglobin.

Iron is most often absorbed into the body through the digestive tract. Digestive difficulties, such as those that a person with celiac disease faces, naturally make iron more difficult to obtain. This means that while most people get this nutrient through food, many also choose to take capsule iron supplements. Heme iron, which comes from animal products that contain hemoglobin, is the easiest to absorb. Nonheme iron, though more difficult for the body to absorb, is still able to yield the nutrient, and is found in the majority of iron-containing foods (so, do not worry, vegetarians and vegans whose parents disapproved on the grounds of “how will you get your iron!”). Symptoms of anemia, besides diminished athletic performance, are feeling cold, feeling tired and for some, having the appearance of pale skin.

For many endurance athletes of any gender, iron deficiency becomes an issue at some point. Though not the focus of this article, it is also quite common among people who do not engage in regular aerobic exercise. If you are concerned about your iron intake, Lowry’s clean bean is always a great start!

Sportlight

Matt Olszewski

Senior Sports Writer

 

On Saturday, Oct. 17, President Sarah Bolton announced that the College would be changing to remote learning for the rest of the semester, and that all athletic practices would be cancelled. Amidst all of this stress and chaos on and off campus regarding COVID-19, it is important to remember the accomplishments of athletes that have excelled on and off the field. Ashley Boersma ’21, a women’s lacrosse player, is one of those athletes. Boersma is from Ada, Mich., and plays midfielder for the College’s women’s lacrosse team.

Before entering college, Boersma was selected as an United States Lacrosse All-Academic as a junior and senior in high school. She also earned a varsity letter in basketball, cross country, lacrosse and volleyball. As a first year, Boersma played in fifteen games, starting in seven of them. She was one of the nine Fighting Scots to score goals in the double digits.

As a sophomore, she ranked in the top fifteen in the whole NCAC for goals (41), points (57) and draw controls (46). She was one of eight Scots with at least 20 goals, and she was also named to the NCAC Academic Honor Roll.

Last season — her junior year — all spring sports teams had their season cut short in March due to COVID-19, but Boersma still thrived on and off the field. She started in all five games for the Fighting Scots, led the team with 20 points, eight assists and scored twelve goals throughout the brief season. She was also named to the NCAC Academic Honor Roll for a third time in her college career.

This past summer, Boersma, like many others, unfortunately experienced a change in her original plans. “I had an internship lined up at a neuro rehabilitation center, but mine, like many others, got canceled so I helped my family with many home renovations that have been on our “to-do” list,” she said.

Now, as a senior, she is currently working on her Independent Study (I.S.). “My I.S. investigates whether there are differences in first and second language working memory capacities and if there is a correlation between working memory capacity and the developmental period in which one acquires a second language,” she said. “In school, I grew up learning Spanish and English at the same time, and I have always been interested in the advantages of bilingualism.”

Boersma was also asked about a few things Wooster-related. Her favorite place on campus is Knowlton Café, as she loves hanging with friends, getting something to eat or drink and doing homework there. She was also asked about her favorite thing at Wooster,. “I love the people and the feeling of community I get while walking through campus. I am thankful for having a strong support system on and off the field.”

Lastly, a fun fact about Boersma is that she has a twin sister, and her younger brothers are also twins!

XC teams adjust to unique yet memorable season

Angad Singh

Sports Editor

 

The College of Wooster men’s and women’s cross country teams conducted their first timed trial run last Friday, Oct 2. The trials were conducted to give the athletes a semblance of a regular season after the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) decided to suspend its regular season during the fall semester of the 2020-21 school year. The teams ran a 4k route on the College golf course to garner a sense of where the team stood during this timeframe. 

On being asked how they feel the College guidelines have affected their practice, Captain Zoe Covey ’21 said, “Cross country practice[s] can be pretty independent, so practice meetings were fairly easy to adapt to the current COVID-19 guidelines.” When asked how new practices are structured she added, “We do have workouts twice a week that are actively coached, and before entering this phase we were not allowed to receive any coaching, so it has been nice for the team to be able to work with Coach Rice again.”  

Many on the team were happy to have a structured event which gave them something to strive for, with many expressing delight. On being asked how it felt to be competing again, Marian Overfield ’22 stated, “I felt happy to be back in a competitive atmosphere!” Teammate Rachel Osterhouse ’22 echoed Overfield’s sentiment when she said, “It was great to get the whole team together and get decked out in the new tartan uniforms.” Georgina Tierney ’22 further added, “The tartan uniforms gave the team the extra pep we needed to run strong!”  

The time trials gave the team the opportunity to further improve without the risk of contracting COVID-19. Matt Prill ’23, when asked how the race felt, said, “Friday was a great experience in my opinion because we were able to get a near authentic race experience without actually racing.”

Many cross country members echoed Prill’s statement and felt that the trial gave them the competitive feeling that the teams crave during the regular season. Captain Noah Crane ’21, when asked about his performance, said, “I felt really good about my performance on Friday! 14:31 is a personal record for me from last year, and I think that as a team we all did very well despite how hilly our home course is. It was great to be back to racing again, and to wear the Wooster uniform. It was a nice reminder of how much I enjoy racing and competing with my teammates.” 

The trial also gave them the chance to glance at themselves and rate their performances. Co-captain Jackson Todd ’21 said, “I was very happy with my performance during the time trial. Especially in a year like this, everyone is at a different spot with their training, and so the time trial was a good check-in for me to make sure that I am where I want to be right now.” The teams have been carefully catering to Wooster’s COVID-19 guidelines.

On the guidelines, Covey said, “Everyone has a different comfort level, and our coach has been great about letting people choose what they are and are not comfortable with in terms of in-person practices. We are more conscious of who we run with than ever before so that we can stay with the same group to avoid broad exposure.” She continued, “It can be hard to remember in the moment, but wearing a mask shows love and care for those around you, and we can’t let our frustrations with the state of the world stop us from taking care of one another.” 

“I greatly appreciate everything that Wooster’s faculty, staff, coaches and administrators have done to keep us safe and on campus this semester, but that doesn’t mean that more necessary actions couldn’t be taken in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread to more students,” Crane said. “We are also very fortunate enough that the athletic department gave our entire team COVID-19 tests, in order to make sure that none of us are putting the campus safety at risk.”

WNBA begins their championship playoff series

Laura Haley

Chief Copy Editor

 

Friday, Oct. 2 kicked off the 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) five-game series final. Competing in the finals this year are the Las Vegas Aces — their second finals appearance after defeating the number seven seed, the Connecticut Sun, 66-63. Alongside the Aces, the Seattle Storm also claimed a spot in the finals after squeaking by the Minnesota Lynx in an 88-86 win. 

Tipping off the first game in Bradenton, Fla., Storm all-star Breanna Stewart totaled 37 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks placing her one point behind Angel McCoughtry, the Ace player who holds the WNBA Finals playoff record for most points in one quarter with 16, set just one week earlier on Sept. 27. Opening the fourth quarter with a two-point advantage over the Aces, Stewart secured a double-digit lead for the Storm, scoring the first 11 points of the quarter. The Storm’s Sue Bird totaled 14 assists, breaking the playoff record while also setting a career high. The Storm prevailed, defeating the Aces 93-80 to clinch a game one victory. 

Sunday, Oct. 4 commenced game two with the Aces, who again came up short in a 91-104 loss to the Storm. In addition to their thirteen-point win, the Storm set a WNBA championship record with 33 assists. Helping Seattle reach their game two victory were Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard with 21 points, Jordin Canada with 10, Bird with 16 and Stewart with 22 — the fifth game in a row the Storm’s power forward has scored more than 20 points in the finals. 

The Aces led 65-64 towards the end of the third quarter after bouncing back from being 13 points down in the first half. Las Vegas’s A’ja Wilson added 20 points while McCoughtry and Emma Cannon both scored 17. However, the teams’ 15 turnovers weren’t enough to sneak past the Storm. Individually, Wilson received All-WNBA recognition, the first of her career, with Stewart trailing one vote behind to be unanimously nominated. 

Facing off on Tuesday, Oct. 7, the Storm will attempt their second WNBA title in two years after their 2018 victory over the Washington Mystics. Going into game three, the Storm and the Aces are missing some of their crucial players. After suffering a knee injury versus Connecticut in the semifinals, WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, Dearica Hamby, will sit out alongside Seattle’s shooting guard Sami Whitcomb, who has decided to step away from the finals to be with her family.

 

Wooster soccer teams win academic award

Olivia Mittak
Sports Editor

 

The College of Wooster men’s and women’s soccer teams were awarded the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award this past week. This is the eleventh consecutive award for the women’s team and the fifth for the men’s. The award is granted to teams who hold a composite GPA of 3.0 or higher and who have a coach that is an active member of the United Soccer Coaches. The men’s team boasted the highest composite GPA of any men’s soccer team in the North Coast Athletic Conference who also earned the award, with a 3.38. The women’s team came in with a composite 3.59 GPA.

This recognition comes as an addition to one that was awarded to the two soccer teams earlier this summer, when the NCAC released its academic honor rolls for both men and women’s soccer. The Fighting Scots boasted twenty-five honorees between the two teams. The women’s team came in second place for highest number of players on the honor roll. These successes prove that Wooster’s soccer players are as dedicated to their scholarly work as they are to work on the field.

Soccer players were eager to express their pride and excitement over the academic award. Caleb King ’22 credited his team’s culture, which “is built around working hard and getting better.” He went on to explain that his team “appl[ies] that to the sport and to [their] schooling, and we prioritize both academics and athletics in that regard.” Credit was also granted to the men’s team’s coach, who King said is always checking in with them to ensure schoolwork is being completed. If any athletes are struggling with their academics, King explained, their coach is readily available to offer help and guidance to the best of his ability. King believed that he could speak for his entire team when saying that he is “proud to be a part of a team that works as hard as we do, and be acknowledged for the work we put in.”

The women’s soccer team were no less pleased with their award. Meghan Badge ’21 expressed that she’s “extremely proud of [her] team for receiving the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award.” Just like King, Badge wasted no time in reaffirming her team’s commitment to working as hard as they can, both on and off the field. Badge went on to characterize her teammates as a group of “intelligent and hardworking women,” a statement that is clearly backed up by the academic achievements the team has come by lately.

The men’s and women’s soccer teams have certainly done their school proud; it isn’t easy to balance sports and schoolwork. These players have managed to uphold an honor that has been granted to their teams multiple years in a row. Considering the global situation that they did this in, their achievement cannot be overstated. The College of Wooster is certainly lucky to have a group of men and women who are as dedicated to their sport, their academics, and to each other. 

2020-21 PGA Tour season will be one for the ages

Samuel Casey
Editor in Chief

 

Like the rest of the sports world, golf was held captive by COVID-19 for all of the spring and much of the summer. One minute the pros are playing in the Players Championship and smacking balls on the famed 17th hole of TPC Sawgrass, the next they are packing up their pristine white pants and going home. This was in March, so golf fans around the world waited in agony as tournaments from the Wells Fargo Championship (booooring) to the Masters (no!) were cancelled. This was, of course, the right call, but I was still anticipating the return of my beloved sport.

Flash forward to August — it’s back! While the rest of us were busy rescheduling our move-in dates, the PGA Championship came back with low expectations. Sure, people were excited, but this was the first major championship (out of the four) to be played since the suspension of the season and even though there were a couple of preceding tournaments, the pros had to be a little rusty. I was wrong. What ensued was an action-packed four days of competition with a tight leaderboard, until the final back nine when young phenom Collin Morikawa said peace out! He drove the green on the par-four 16th to seven feet and subsequently drained the eagle putt. I flew out of my seat. Golf was back and better than ever.

It’s worth noting that I disagreed with any sport coming back in the summer and fall, but since golf involves little to no contact with other people coupled with constant testing, I allowed myself the pleasure of viewing.

Flash forward again to September — the 2019-20 season is technically over, Dustin Johnson won the PGA Tour Championship and now the 2020-21 season kicks off with the … U.S. Open? You heard that right, folks, the season opened (I’m not counting the Safeway Open because booooring) with the United States’ eponymous tournament. This time, the expectations were high, in part because of how wild the last major was, but also because of the course. The famed Winged Foot Golf Club last held the U.S. Open in 2006 when, if you were an avid golf fan at six to eight years old, you might remember Phil Mickelson’s choke-job on the 72nd hole for what would end up being one of his six runner-up finishes in this tournament. 

Mickelson, now 14 years older, did not get his long-awaited win, but that didn’t make the event any less exhilarating. Sunday ended up being a showdown between Bryson DeChambeau, who gained forty pounds of pure muscle and a lot more yards off the tee, and Matthew Wolff, who is known for having a weird swing and being younger than most college seniors (turned 21 in April in case you want to feel like your life is going nowhere). It was neck and neck for most of the front nine — accentuated by back-to-back eagle putts right before the turn — but DeChambeau ran away with it. He finished six strokes ahead of the field and was the only player to finish under par which is not unheard of for Winged Foot (see: “The Massacre” of 1974), but is very unheard of for the pros.

At this point you’re asking yourself, “Why should I care?” Well, because this next year of golf is going to be epic! The 2020-21 season will have six majors — six! — because of the aforementioned U.S. Open and the rescheduled Masters which is set to take place in November, before the normal major season kicks off in April with the Masters again. Also, in all the years I’ve been watching golf, I don’t remember so many players competing at such a high caliber. Between people that are younger than me (sigh) and Tiger who is going on 45, it seems like every player has a chance to take home the trophy and millions of dollars. This year, I dare anyone to turn on the TV on a Sunday and tell me watching golf is “boring.”