With the summer semester coming to an end, fall sports teams are looking to start amping up their practices for preseason and gearing up for the fall 2021 season. It’s been over a year since fall sports teams have played an in-season game and coaches and student-athletes alike are ready to get back out there.
Men’s soccer team Head Coach Blake New says that the past couple of months have gone really well for his team despite only having 12 players on campus.
“We are limited in what we can do, but we were able to do some of our favorite drills that directly relate to our playing style,” he said.
Even with a small number of players on campus, the team culture hasn’t felt any different, according to New. The players on campus are still just as serious about being student-athletes, and he believes that they’re working even harder than they have in the past.
“No one else has this chance to train together and then be together to do the summer workouts,” New said. “So I think it is a real advantage.”
However, this has not been the case for all teams. Women’s volleyball Head Coach Erica Rau says that her team culture has definitely changed.
“I do feel closer with my players that are on campus this summer, but obviously it’s harder to build team culture when the team is fractured,” she said. “We haven’t all been able to be together since March 2019.”
Rau says that you can definitely feel the difference in the athletics community with fewer student-athletes on campus.
“Most of the athletes I’ve spoken to have been struggling this semester,” she said. “I think the group that is on campus now has gotten closer, but it’s been hard for them to watch all their teammates, friends, and family living their lives while they are in class. Most of them won’t get a substantial break or any kind of break before the fall semester starts, but I am confident morale will pick up though when the fall athletes start to return to campus!”
The field hockey team has also enjoyed having the summer to play together and reunite as a team. For the second- and third-years on campus, this is the first time they have been together since being sent home back in March 2020.
“Playing together again has been so much fun, and we’ve really been able to encourage each other and push ourselves this summer,” said College third-year field hockey player Eli Modahl. “During practices, we’ve been able to work on playing together and connecting as a team.”
Modahl also notes that being able to condition together has made a big difference for many of the players.
“Summer workouts are for sure difficult to complete when you’re alone at home, but being together makes it much easier,” she said.
Although the summer is proving to be beneficial for most teams, some athletes and coaches are worried about being on campus for such an extended amount of time. Most of the athletes on campus this semester who play fall sports will be on campus for almost 11 consecutive months, so coaches are working on solutions to prevent burnout.
New says that he has always closely monitored his players for fatigue or burnout, but he doesn’t think it will be a problem.
“They get to play the sport they love for five weeks without classes, so if anything, I think it will be really refreshing for them,” he said. “We will have to pay special attention to the beginning of the semester and how we transition into a hectic [academic] schedule.”
However, some student-athletes are beginning to feel the effects of being in school for so long. Modahl feeIs that for a lot of people, herself included, the burnout is already real. She believes that there have been so many things in everyone’s lives for the last year and a half that are now catching up.
“It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by it all,” she said. “I think that we are all pushing to get things back to ‘normal’ as much as possible. However, I also feel that this is something making many of us overwhelmed, because the world is not normal yet — regardless of how much we want it to be.”
Modahl says that giving permission to take breaks and step back is super important to helping with burnout.