Playing in the Pandemic

A Look Inside the Life of a New Collegiate Athlete

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Universities are preparing for fall sports during COVID-19.

Caroline Schultz, Staff Writer

Dowling’s new alumni are heading all across the country to begin their college careers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many universities uncertain on how they will operate, and specifically, how their athletes will train and compete. 

Fall sports have put colleges, athletes, and coaches in challenging positions on how to let athletes participate while keeping them safe. With so many new rules and restrictions, student-athletes will have to find entirely new ways to approach their college experience. 

“I was nervous and excited, but I knew I just needed to roll with the punches and adapt the best I could. No one really knew what was going to happen, our coaching staff didn’t know what was going to happen, so I was just prepared to have to adapt over the next month or so very quickly,” said Maddie Grant, Dowling alum and swimmer at the University of South Dakota. 

Meeting new people is one of the highlights of college, especially if you are becoming acquainted with an entirely new team. However, with social distancing guidelines, COVID-19 has shifted team dynamics in new ways. 

“I think it has impacted us positively and negatively. I think it has impacted us negatively because you can’t get to know or hang out with as many of your teammates because of social distancing rules, but it has also impacted us positively because we have been able to adapt to change really well and still be able to work hard as a team together,” Grant said. 

Some athletes are having a more difficult time adjusting to college than others. Dowling alum and Indiana University Swimmer Katie Broderick was required to spend three days in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

When asked how she is acclimating to college, Broderick said, “Um, not well, but it is getting better.” 

However, Broderick commends her coaching staff for their efforts in trying to keep the Indiana Swim and Dive team as safe as possible. 

“I think they are doing a pretty good job trying to keep us safe, at our team meetings they are like, ‘make sure you wear a mask everywhere you go, even in the car with your teammates,’” Broderick said. 

Luckily, some athletes have been able to train while abiding by CDC guidelines. 

“Training is starting to pick up because we just got out of the SEC required ramp-up period. With the pandemic, our schedule is very different, and we have a 3-week rotating practice schedule, ” said Berit Quass, Dowling alum and swimmer at the University of Tennessee.  

As far as competition, colleges and universities seem hesitant to finalize decisions on how competitions will function. 

“I think we’ll do virtual meets, but we’ll try to find ways to compete,” Quass said. “It might not be until next semester that we finally have dual meets.” 

Although this first month of college has brought numerous challenges to student-athletes across the country, teamwork remains a central part of the college athletic experience. 

Grant said, “My teammates make sure we all keep each other in check with our classes and all push each other to do our best in school and our sports.”