COVID-19 restrictions last fall and spring – including policies like the three-semester plan – made it difficult for Oberlin’s athletes to bond with their teammates. With fall sports’ pre-seasons starting next month, athletes are itching to get back on campus and be back with their full teams.
Rising College second-year Taylor Gwynne is a member of the women’s volleyball team and says that, while bonding with the team was definitely hard, it also made her team members on campus that much closer.
“Our class got really close because with COVID[-19] we didn’t have much chance to get close with other people,” she said. “Our upperclassmen were really good about staying in touch and being helpful the first semester even when they weren’t able to be physically present, which made meeting most of them in person in the spring an easier transition.”
Rising College second-year student-athlete on women’s basketball, Gina Lombard, says that even though the whole team was never on campus at the same time, she feels like they were able to constantly be in communication with each other and create an environment that made it feel like they were all together.
“Because we were always talking to each other, I feel like we were all able to create really personal relationships with one another despite not all being on campus,” she said.
Overall, Gwynne thinks her team did a really good job with getting to know one another, given the circumstances.
“It also helps that we’re a smaller group,” she said. “I think it was easier for our upperclassmen to bond with us because there aren’t as many team dynamics we needed to navigate versus when being on a much larger team.”
She attributes her ability to find her voice on the volleyball team to the fact that there was only a small portion of them on campus in the fall.
“We only had first-years and Iyanna [Lewis, College third-year,] the first semester which gave us a chance to come out of our shells and find our own confidence before trying to figure out a full team dynamic, which I thought was really nice,” said Gwynne.
Rising College second-year and dual-sport athlete, River Schiff, says that it was definitely easier in the spring than the fall to bond with their team, but he still feels as if there’s more bonding that could have been done.
“There’s still a lot of people on both of my teams that I’d love to get closer to, which should be easier this coming season,” he said.
Schiff says that the field hockey team has always fostered a close-knit environment and that playing the sport is their passion, so he is really looking forward to this season.
“I’ve missed playing sports and having a supportive team dynamic,” he said.
Schiff says that in regards to the transition for this coming season, the second-year class has been made aware of the necessity to balance in-person classes and athletics.
“It’s something that I am a bit anxious about, but it’s definitely exciting to be back on a full schedule,” he said.
Lombard says that the women’s basketball team has done a really great job addressing the transition into preseason given that they’re not going to be on campus as early as they normally would.
“We’ve set up a virtual preseason to make sure we’re all holding each other and ourselves accountable in order to prepare us for our official start date,” she said.
Schiff thinks that in terms of becoming closer to people he doesn’t know as well on his teams, he’ll think of it as having a fresh start with those people.
“[I’ll be] basically like a first-year starting off, but with the exception of already having somewhat of an idea of who the other players are on a personal level and having actually interacted with them as teammates,” he said.