COVID-19 Response

Season of Quarantine

With all spring sports being cancelled, student athletes have relied on their creativity to remain active

Collage of photos of student athletes golfing at home

Student Success

icon of a calendarMay 8, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Michael Downes

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The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shifted life as we know it. With stay home initiatives in place and the spring seasons cancelled, student athletes have had their lives flipped upside down.

“They’re student athletes,” says Katrina Brumfield, the head track and field coach, ”they can't sit still for very long and do nothing.”

Being away from the team and in isolation, students have had to rely on their own ingenuity to fill the void. 

“Our guys got very creative with their at-home setup,” says Nicholas Pumford, head coach of the men’s golf team. “They’ve been able to practice, but it’s hitting balls in the backyard into netting or carpet.” 

Similar to the men’s golf team, the women’s team has been able to practice as well. Head coach Alyssa Gaudio has received photos of her players setting up turf and nets in their yards to stay limber. But some sports, like baseball and softball, are harder to get creative with. Especially if you don’t have family to play catch with. 

“You have to think outside-the-box and get creative,” says Justin Karn, acting head baseball coach, “which I think a lot of our guys have been doing. It’s difficult to have a plan like normal, because people are in different areas with access to different things.”

One of Karn’s pitchers, Brandon Dean, put together a one-man show. He brought a portable mound to a little league field. Dean set up a net behind home plate and kept a bucket of balls next to him, creating a solo bullpen session. 

Others have relied on family to get some work in, but it doesn’t always work out. “Some of them are getting work done on the tees or playing catch with siblings or parents,” says Lauren Karn, head softball coach, “but it’s been difficult. They’re all working out, doing some sort of exercise at home, but the softball aspect has been difficult.”

Alongside physical fitness, coaches have put an emphasis on maintaining their athlete’s mental health during the pandemic. As many businesses have done, the coaches have turned to Zoom and Google Hangouts to keep morale high. 

“It’s been a rough couple of weeks,” says Katrina, “but we shifted focus to making sure that our student athletes are mentally okay. We do zoom calls once a week to check in with everybody and give them updates.”

Having weekly meetings seems to be a universal practice for the teams, but their approach has varied. “The initial Zoom meeting was more about how they were doing,” explains Lauren, “how their families were and how they’ve adapted to virtual learning. From there, we’ve played games or broken up the team into groups to do presentations. The most recent meeting was a scavenger hunt.”

Alyssa has put her team in charge of the meetings. The girls have focused on core values.

“We do weekly google meetings led by a girl on the team. Our senior led the first one, talking about strength, the second focused on teamwork and the third was about mental focus. These not only work for golf, but help them day-to-day during quarantine.”

The men’s golf team has taken this time to reach out to alumni.

“We have an alumni, Brian Stuard, SBA ‘05, who’s currently on the PGA Tour,” says Nicholas. “We reached out to him and talked about his experience at Oakland and on the tour to get the guys engaged and learn something, despite not being on the course.”

The pandemic has hit the sports world hard. Sports have been suspended, and the ability to get out on the field and practice isn’t a viable option. Luckily, student athletes are strong-willed and resilient.

“They’re gamers,” says Katrina. “They adjust with the times and adapt well. They are learning how to move forward in this new normal.” 

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