While on-campus student-athletes are grateful to be able to still train, there is no doubt that they are facing obstacles by practicing during this time of COVID-19.
While social-distancing and the use of masks are the new everyday normal, athletes have had to implement both of these safety protocols into their training.
“The fact that we can only practice in groups of 10 has made it more difficult because a big part of athletics is working with a team and being able to see everyone there working out with you,” says rower Rachel Shrives ʼ24, who explains that even though the Crew team is still doing lift and getting out on the water, they have had to separate into cohorts for practices.
Similarly, the Lacrosse and Field Hockey teams have both had to drastically change the way they practice to make sure they are properly social-distancing.
“Outside of warming up together, pretty much everything has been different. We have to do drills that promote social distancing and especially for lacrosse, where there is a lot of contact, it made it difficult to play the game the way it is supposed to be played — we ended up doing a lot of stick work this fall,” explains Alex Lenhart ʼ24, who is a member of both the Lacrosse and Field Hockey teams.
All athletes, regardless of sport, have had to adjust to wearing masks while training.
“The only thing that has changed is that we need to wear masks, but besides that, we still do the same drills and train in the same way we used to. Tennis is an easy sport to play socially-distanced for the most part, but the masks have been difficult to get used to, and when we play doubles we have to be cognizant of how close we are getting to each other,” says Melinda Alviar ʼ24, one of four tennis players currently living on campus.
Lenhart also details the struggles of working out while wearing a mask, but luckily she has been able to look at the restriction in a positive light.
“The masks were really hard to get acclimated to at first because they are hard to breathe in and if you are breathing really heavily they will get sucked onto your mouth — it feels like we are almost doing high altitude training because it feels like we have less oxygen available to us. I guess the plus side to that though is that when we did do workouts that were socially distanced and we did not need to wear masks, like running, I felt a lot stronger which was really nice.”
Besides the physical aspects of the sports changing, the many restrictions in place on campus have made it harder on athletes socially as well. Unlike previous seasons, it is tough for athletes to hang out with each other if they are not in the same dorm blocks — there are no team dinners after practice or opportunities to get to know each other outside of the KSC.
For Shrives, it is already difficult to get to know her teammates due to the cohort system in place on the crew team, and, “with the upperclassmen not being here and all the restrictions it has been tough, even though the captains have been doing a great job of trying to keep us connected.”
Alviar offers similar sentiments, as she only sees her teammates at practices and lifts.
“We do not see each other as much as we would pre-COVID and we also are only training three days a week which is much less than normal. So it has been tough, but luckily the on-court bonding has been good.”
Athletics during the fall semester has been challenging, but athletes such as Lenhart are grateful to have the opportunity to train together and they respect all of the work that the athletic department has done throughout the year so far.
“Kudos to the athletics department for all the effort they have put in this season — it is definitely hard for them to plan around all the different restrictions, and they have done a really fantastic job of helping us find some sense of normalcy while still adhering to the guidelines,” Lenhart says.