Written for The Argo by Olivia Paolillo
Intense practices. Exciting game days. In-person team bonding. Creating memories. Beating a rival team. Scoring the winning goal or point. The pandemic halted all of it. After all the changes brought by the spring semester, students found themselves with questions about fall sports still unanswered into the late weeks of summer. While athletes hoped training routines and games would be somewhat back to normal by September, ultimately, on July 28, the dreaded news came. The university announced its decision to cancel all sports for the Fall 2020 semester.
“One day we were all together playing a game, the next day we were left devastated with the news our season was fully canceled,” said Celest Orbe, Stockton University women’s lacrosse player, reflecting on the spring season. COVID-19 left a major impact on collegiate athletic competition across the country, cutting seasons short and sending athletes home after months of rigorous training and preparation for competition.
With social distancing guidelines still in effect, athletes have embraced creativity and passion for their sports to come up with new routines and to stay in shape over the last several months. When the sports season abruptly stopped in the spring, students had no choice but to quickly switch gears from exercising routinely with Stockton trainers to at-home substitutes. Many resorted to a variety of indoor and outdoor workouts whether finding training ideas from friends and family on social media, or participating in virtual instruction with coaches through platforms like Zoom.
Salena LeDonne, a Communication Studies student on the women’s soccer team said, “I’ve been trying new workouts I’ve never had the time to do like HITT (high-intensity interval training), pilates and jump rope. I’ve also been trying to go for walks to keep my body moving since I’m spending so much more time at home.”
However, maintaining the stamina and motivation to keep up a physical regime on an at-home basis can be a challenge, LeDonne says. “With so much excess time on my hands, I’ve definitely implemented a ‘no excuse’ attitude to working out.”
Ledonne’s best friend and teammate, Camilla Collins, says she’s struggled with this aspect of her new routine. “At times it’s difficult to find the motivation without constructed training and an open gym. I’ve been trying new ways to keep up my cardio by biking, HIIT workouts, and walks,” she said.
Collins also relies on technology to fill the void. “I’ve started believing in myself more after listening to motivational podcasts while I’m running,”
In addition to the student sports community, coaches have also found ways to adapt. Apps and programs like Zoom, social media takeovers on Instagram and Facebook, and group chat bonding activities allow coaches to hold athletes accountable and keep connected.
Head coach of Stockton’s women’s lacrosse team, Cristina Maurizi remembers an array of emotions when the last season ended. “At first, I was extremely upset due to how quickly it happened and with no chance to give last-minute remarks to the players and our one senior.”
Once the shock wore off, Maurizi knew in her heart the decision was for the best. “I was so frustrated because our potential was just starting to shine through in our first few games. We were in our groove and ready to show off,” she said.
For LeDonne, just about to embark on her senior season, there are many feelings of sadness, but hopefulness, too. “While it’s frustrating to accept that after all these years this might be how my sports career ends, I’ve come to terms with that possibility.”
Collins shared some of her best friend’s sentiments. “I do think if the season happened there would be a lot of obstacles and that this is the right decision for our health and safety,” she said.
“Being a senior, I won’t be experiencing my last season, but I made the best memories through college athletics. All I can do at this point is look at the positives even though that can be hard during this time.”