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A Year Returned: Athletes’ Lives Post-Pandemic

By Maxmillian Robinson

In fall 2020, the Adelphi Board of Directors along with the Center for Recreation and Sport (CRS) department, found that it was unsafe to return back to in-competition play on the Garden City campus. Therefore, prohibiting all fall sporting teams and their seasons to be canceled. The spring teams tried to continue on with a season, but the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the fluidity of it to be run smoothly.

Today, our Panther fall sporting teams have completed a full season, in addition to all spring sports in arms length of season commencement. As a reflection of these events, our Panther athletes spoke out about the difference a year makes.

“2020 was very different,” said sophomore men’s soccer player, Benji Jones. “Many of our fixtures were canceled and we didn’t play a single game for a year. Games are one of the best ways to learn and put everything you practiced into a real situation. Even normal things like showering after practice and wearing masks were new aspects that we had to get used to.”

Benji Jones makes a dive attempt on the ball in a NE-10 regular season matchup vs. Southern New Hampshire University (9.25.21). Photo by James Stankiewicz via AU athletics.

The defenseman wasn’t alone in expressing his views on the vacant season of years past.

“[It] was mentally challenging compared to this year or any other year I have been an athlete,” said grad student and women's lacrosse player Kailey Broderick. “Lacrosse has always been an escape for me, and last year was taken away nearly every other week due to Covid-19. I not only didn’t have the sport, but I did not have my coaches or teammates either, except through texts or FaceTimes.”

Broderick says what impacted her most during the pandemic was being unable to play in games along with teammates. Photo courtesy of AU athletics.

Time away from a loved one or hobby can be disappointing, especially when it’s least expected. Moreover, with all that time away, how do you build chemistry back to where it started? In addition, how did these athletes have the strength and discipline to continue training when no season was involved?

“I tried to stay positive,” said Kayla Hall, a grad student and women’s basketball player. “I took every practice seriously because you never knew when the season could get canceled again. Even after finding out there was no season, I didn’t let that get me down and I looked forward to the future.”

When in doubt, Kayla Hall always kept a positive attitude. Photo courtesy of AU Athletics.

According to Broderick, staying mentally prepared was a challenge. “It was all about constantly reminding yourself and others why we are here and how we are grateful to be here. A lot of training had to be done on our own time, especially during quarantines or simply when we were not in season. I felt that self-motivation led to team motivation, whereas in other years the team was always what motivated everyone,” she said.

Broderick also mentioned that she missed the excitement of scrimmages with her teammates and the “game-day mentality” that each player was accustomed to.

Not to say there are feelings of regret or remorse, but isolation amongst teammates and their sport causes those to reflect on what could have been.

“I learned a lot about working on myself and keeping my motivation high over the course of the year,” Jones said. “In addition, it just reinforced the love that I had for soccer as it made me appreciate playing with your friends, having regular competition and the daily socializing/banter that you have at practice and in the locker room.”

Broderick reflected that Coach Pat McCabe always told the players, “You’re only as strong as your weakest player.”

“I look back and think about how different a person I was [before Covid, during Covid,] and now as restrictions are continually being lifted, and I see that I have changed a lot,” she said. “I learned that I used to be a lot more independent and private about my feelings. After going through such a mentally tough phase of my life, I learned how to open up and allow my teammates to build me up when I’m feeling down.”

Hall said what she missed the most were the fans in the stands.

In the midst of it all, these athletes continued to fight for what’s right, and that's to compete at a high level for the Brown and Gold. Needless to say, these Panther athletes are grateful to be back, yet are now more conscious of the small things in life.

“I learned that life is short and to make the best of everything you have,” Hall said. “Never take anything for granted because you never know when it will be taken away from you.”

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